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  CSPAN    U.S. Senate    News/Business.  

    December 5, 2012
    12:00 - 5:00pm EST  

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do something to create jobs at a faster pace. put in place strategies that will lead to job creation that's more accelerated. now, the good news is we have had some progress. if you look at the numbers for august, september and october, it's right around 511,000 jobs created. that's good news, and it's good progress. it's a lot better than we were in the spring. if you look at april, may, june, that time period, we had only created about 200,000. so this three-month, more than half million jobs created is progress. but we got a long tieway to go and we need to move the job creation pace or the pace has to be accelerated. in the midst of all that we have a good bit of uncertainty. middle-income families look at
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washington and don't see enough progress on jobs, frankly, and folks coming together. i think they will. until they see that, they have a sense there is something substantial that's decided that affects their lives, they're going to be very uncertain. i hear this from taxpayers, i also hear a lot about uncertainty from small business owners. and at the same time we have something we can do about it. or i should say the house has something they can do it about it right now. we passed in the senate this summer in july, i guess it was july 24, a tax cut for middle-class families, meaning we would continue the tax rates for those families. that kind of certainty is badly needed right now. so one of the best things that could rap right now is the house could vote and the president would sign into law legislation that would provide certainty for middle-class families. 98% of american families, and
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some 97% of small businesses. so it's time for the house to act. secondly, i think we have to take steps to make sure that we're creating jobs at a faster pace, as i mentioned before. i'm introducing legislation today to help middle-class families and -- middle noik families and to boost hiring. it would expand the payroll tax cut from last year for one year and give employers a tax credit for hiring. and i'll be talking about that legislation. now, the payroll cut that we -- tax cut that we put into place last year had a number of benefits. i won't go through all of those today but the joint economic committee, the committee of which i'm the chairman, just put out a report in the last 24 hours, it's a fact sheet that highlights some of the benefits of the payroll tax cut.
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mr. president, just for the record i would ask consent that the joint economic committee fact sheet on the payroll tax cut dated december 4, 2002, that -- twoif, that -- 2012, that that be made part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. casey: just a couple of points. when you look at the economic impact of what happens in families when they have dollars to spend, the payroll tax cut put a thousand dollars on average in the pockets of most families in america. families making under $150,000 are responsible for almost 82% of consumer spending. so the reason we're creating jobs with the payroll tax cut or a tax credit, the idea i mentioned before, is because you're giving consumers, families and small businesses the opportunity to create jobs because of economic activity.
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i did mention the -- the job impact of the payroll tax cut created or saved 400,000 jobs in the last year. and did -- didn't in any way harm the social security trust fund. in fact, it enhanced our ability to have more payroll revenue over time because of that job creation. so i think we should do both, continue the payroll tax cut as well as have a tax credit for businesses so that if they hire in year one versus the year -- or a year after the year that the credit is in place, that that hiring can be given so that hiring can be given credit and they can be is incentivized to hire more. tomorrow our joint economic committee will be engaged in a hearing on fiscal cliff issues. we'll discuss strategies to
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create jobs, we'll discuss the implications of the fiscal cliff, and what happens if we don't get some work done by the house to pass the middle-income tax cut. we have to continue to focus on middle-income families, their lives, their struggles and what we can do to ensure they have more dollars in their pocket to continue economic growth. with that, mr. president, i will yield the floor. and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. schumer: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new york. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be repealed. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: thank you, mr. president. first i want to thank my great colleague from pennsylvania, i enjoyed sharing a table last night with him and his beautiful, charming, intelligent wife, who he's lucky he would be the first to admit he's lucky to have married, and their four great girls. but second, thank him for his excellent, as usual, on-target
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remarks. we have a great chairman of the j.e.c. and every time he comes to the floor, it shows shoas. olympia snowe, bill kristol, congressman mike simpson of idaho, david brooks, congresswoman bono-mack and walter jones, "the national review." we're here to ai seau passing the senate's middle-class tax cut is the right thing to do. you don't have to take our word for it. two-thirds of the american public agrees with us but you don't need to take their word for it, either. just listen to the voices within speaker boehner's own party. there we go. a kent conrad i am not in terms
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of my facility with charts. it's clear that speaker boehner has needed cover from his right flank before he could agree to any deal on taxes with the president. the speaker didn't have it before, but he sure has it now. when "the wall street journal" editorial page says that decoupling would not go against conservatives' antitax principles, that gives a whole lot of cover to the speaker. when grover norquist refuses to declare whether decoupling would violate his group's pledge, that, too, gives a whole lot of cover to the speaker. and when more and more rank-and-file republicans come out publicly every day in favor of passing the senate bill, that, too, gives cover to the speaker. you really have to absolute cram tom cole. he was the first one on the other side to dare speak the truth about what should be done on taxes and he's been on tv
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almost every day making the case to his party in public. the day after congressman cole went public he was dismissed as having a minority opinion. well, that's not true anymore. his comments sparked a trend. in addition to those republicans who have spoken out publicly there are probably dozens of other tom coles in the house who just don't feel free to speak their mind but agree with him privately. just this morning in an appearance on cable television, the junior senator from oklahoma, an unquestioned conservative, came out in favor of higher tax rates on the wealthy. he said -- quote -- "personally, i know we have to raise revenue. i really don't care which way we do it. actually i would rather see the rates go up than do it the other way because it gives us greater chance to reform the tax code and broaden the base in the future"-- unquote. if senator coburn does not provide conservative cover, i don't know who does.
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the house republican leadership are like generals, hunkered away in a bunker who don't realize that their army has already laid down its arms. the republican leaders are in search of an exit strategy. well, they have one in the form of a discharge petition that's been filed in the house. it's an out for the speaker. with the discharge petition the speaker doesn't have to outright endorse the senate bill. all he needs to do is tell his members sign your conscience. if you believe in the discharge petition, sign it, and there will be no recrimination against you. join with -- if they do that, i am confident the discharge petition -- if speaker boehner does that, i'm confident the discharge petition will get 218 signatures and then we will get 218 votes on the floor. we may not get a majority of the majority, but we'll definitely
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get 218 votes. so we may never win over the paul ryans in the other chamber but they aren't necessary. they can vote no, or they can even vote present. i ask unanimous consent, i don't know what the schedule is, i be given one additional minute. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: thank you, mr. president. put the bill on the floor. let rank-and-file republicans vote their conscience and this bill can pass. in "the new york times" today it was reported that senior aides on the republican side are considering just such a strategy to give them a soft landing on this tax debate. agree to the president's offer on taxes, the thinking goes, and live to fight another day on spending cuts. we agree that a tax hike on middle-class americans should be taken off the table. once guns plurns agree to higher rates on the wealthy an agreement on the other sticking points of a grand bargain can quickly st. paulfall into place. mr. president, let's stop with
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the offers and the counteroffers that are leaked only to manufacture headlines in the press. let's get serious and cross the biggest item of our to-do list off and get this senate tax cut bill passed. i yield the floor. mr. cornyn: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i'd ask unanimous consent that the next 45 minutes be devoted to a colloquy between myself and my colleagues on this side of the aisle. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: thank you very much, mr. president. mr. president, just this last week the house of representatives have passed a bipartisan piece of legislation called the stem jobs act. and for those who are unfamiliar with the term "stem" it stands
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for science, technology, engineering, and math. the hard sciences that we have too few in terms of graduates from our colleges and universities. this bill passed in the house of representatives with 245 votes, and was originally sponsored by my friend and colleague, lamar smith of texas, and is very similar to a piece of legislation i myself have introduced earlier this year. the goal of this legislation is one that i think is -- enjoys broad bipartisan support, and that is to help the united states retain more of the highly skilled immigrants who come to study at our colleges and universities. in particular, this bill would make eligible for a green card those who graduate in the stem
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fields who get a master's degree or a ph.d. and so we would not add to the net number of green cards that would be eligible, there is 55,000 diversity lottery visa green cards that would be substituted for by these stem green cards. now, we all know that america's immigration system is broken, and, unfortunately, it's a self-inflicted wound in many respects, but in particular by diving away highly skilled foreign workers who want to start businesses and create jobs right here in america. now, this is not about hiring foreign workers to perform jobs where we have qualified americans waiting in line for these jobs. the fact of the matter is, we
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don't produce enough american-born workers to fill the necessary job vacancies in these fields. many of these job creators and entrepreneurs attend our colleges and universities and you might say the american taxpayer helps subsidize their education because many of them receive world-class training at our public and private colleges and universities, and then reluctantly return home to pursue their careers because they can't get a visa or can't get a green card here in america. we are cultivating human capital and then sending those individuals back home. now, this is an area where there is broad, broad support. my colleague, senator moran, recently wrote a letter, had a "dear colleague" letter which points out that roughly -- well,
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he cites in the letter that more than three-quarters of voters support a stem-type visa. he quotes in this letter, dated july 20, 2012, "87% of democrats polled, 72% of republicans polled and 65% of independents support the creation of a stem visa." and, of course, if you think about it, it's just common sense. why in the world would we want to subsidize the education of these students from other countries, train them in these highly specialized and highly desirable fields and then simply send them home? i've introduced legislation over the past years that would increase the number of h1-b visas which are not green cards, they are actually temporary visas that would allow more of these foreign national students trained in these stem fields to stay here in the united states
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and help create jobs here in the united states. this bill actually goes a step further, and what it does is it provides them a green card, a green card, which is the first step toward a path to citizenship. if you believe that this is a self-inflicted wound on our economy, you're exactly right, our current policy. we're educating brilliant students and then compelling them to go to work in shanghai or singapore rather than san antonio or the silicon valley. meanwhile, we're handing out tens of thousands of diversity visas to immigrants chosen by a random lottery, without regard to any qualifications they might when it comes to job creation and entrepreneurship. it makes absolutely no sense. i believe we need an immigration policy that serves our national interest. and if there's one thing that we
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need more than anything else now is we need job creators and entrepreneurs in the united states. and we know in the -- in the global economy, it's people with the special skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics are the ones that are going to help us create jobs and grow the economy. not just for these individuals, but for the people that are hired by the start-up businesses that they will create. the stem jobs act would mitigate the problem with the diversity lottery visa which, again, does not distinguish between immigrants based on the qualifications they have or their ability to create jobs or be entrepreneurs. it would mitigate this problem by making our immigration system more economically sensible. it would establish new visa categories for 55,000 stem graduates of american research institutions and would eliminate the random diversity lottery
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visa to offset these new green cards. our competitors abroad are observing this brain drain that america is experiencing and they're taking advantage of it. and in a global economy, they're more than happy to take the best and the brightest foreign students who come and train in the united states and to encourage them to come to their countries and to create jobs and economic there. this relatively minor change to our emigration system could deliver a major boost to u.s. economic growth. i realize that many of our colleagues have different priorities when it comes to fixing our broken immigration system, but the reforms contained in the stem jobs act enjoy bipartisan support. so i would urge my colleagues, let's show the world that we can agree on this common sense, bipartisan immigration reform.
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let's do something for our economy and let's take this first step in our broken -- solving our broken immigration system. now, let me say, before i turn the floor over to my colleague from kentucky, who i know has some comments on this topic, let me address two issues quickly and that is, i can anticipate hearing from some of our colleagues, this doesn't solve all of what's broken in our immigration system and i concede that that's correct. but what we need more than anything is to develop some confidence-building measures for the american people to demonstrate that we can come together, republicans and democrats alike, and do what needs to be done, which everybody -- almost everybody agrees is common sense, and then we can follow on with other solutions on a targeted basis to our broken immigration system. i once believed back in 2005, when senator jon kyl and i, from
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arizona, introduced something we called the comprehensive border security and immigration reform act of 2005, i believed we should address this issue comprehensively. we tried in 2007 and that bill failed on the senate floor when senator reid pulled the bill from the floor. i believe that now, given the temper of the times and given the skepticism with which the american people view us here in congress, that the only way we're going to be able to crack this nut is to stop -- is to start small in targeted reforms like the stem jobs act. and so i believe this is the beginning and not the end of fixing what's broken about our immigration reform system. but if we can't do this, if we can't do this, i have next to no confidence we can do the rest that needs to be done as well. final point. i believe that we should be
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family friendly when it comes to our immigration system, and this stem jobs act takes a very important step in making sure families can be unified. under the current law, someone who has a green card is not entitled to bring their immediate family into the united states to live with them while they're waiting for their eligibility for a green card. the stems job act, though, addresses that by creating -- recreating the "v" visa, which would help us retain more of the potential job creators, but it would also help unify the immediate families of u.s. permanent residents. right now, the spouses and children of u.s. permanent residents waiting in line outside the united states -- have to wait outside to wait in line for their green card, which causes families to be separated, something that none of us believe is an optimal situation. the stem jobs act would let them wait inside the united states,
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unified with their loved ones, until they're off the waiting list, which takes several years and, thus, would promote family unification and yet -- and that's yet another reason why this bill deserves our support. mr. president, i would yield to my distinguished colleague from kentucky, who i know supports this approach, for any comments he would care to make. mr. paul: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from kentucky. mr. paul: i'd like to compliment the senator from texas on being a leader in immigration reform. there are many of us in the republican party who wish to have immigration reform. i do wish it to be noted for the record, though, today that we could take a small step forward towards immigration reform tod today. this bill that would allow ph.d.'s and master's, successful graduates to come into the country and get a green card, could be passed today. this bill is at the desk and we will ask consent from the majority party today to pass this bill. i will also note that the president and the members of the
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majority party will object. the president has said he will not pass this unless he can get everything he wants. well, when i go home or when i talk to folks with the media, they say, why can't you guys get along? why can't you do anything in washington? why is this system so horribly broken? this is precisely why. we agree on this bill. i think the other side will stand up and say they like the concept. but they don't want to do it yet. they want to wait till we agree on everything. well, guess what? we're never going to agree on everything. so we're never going to get immigration reform if we can't start agreeing to some things and moving the ball forwardment this is the same on tax reform. this is the same on entitlement reform. we lurch from deadline to deadline. there will be a deadline, the so-called fiscal cliff, coming up and the president has announced that we don't have enough time to do entitlement reform, we don't have enough time to do tax reform, we don't have enough time to do
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immigration reform. well, when are we going to start? when is there going to be a committee hearing designated towards entitlement reform? i've been here two years. there's no such committee. when will there be committee hearings and meetings on immigration reform? there won't be time, deadlines will pass. but why not break things up into smaller pieces? why have to have some enormous fiscal cliff, or whatever, that everybody has to agree to a thousand moving parts? we are of different persuasions, of different parties, of different beliefs. we're never going to agree on a thousand things. why don't we start passing some things we can agree to? this is a small step forward. we can pass this bill today. do you have an explanation that you can help me to understand why we have to have empty partisanship, why we can't move forward to pass some small things for immigration reform? mr. cornyn: mr. president, i would say in response to the senator from kentucky that i have been in the senate for some time now and i have been engaged
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in the immigration debates for a long time, and i think one of the biggest challenges is we've tried to deal with this in a comprehensive way that has so many moving parts that it's almost impossible to find a majority in the senate, much less the house, in order to support all the various components of it. that's one of the things i like about this bill is that it's narrow, it deals with a consensus reform, commonsense reform, and it avoids a lot of the controversy associated with other parts o of the immigration subject. but i do believe that we owe it to the american people not to stop here. but it's a good place to start. and once we pass this legislation, i think, and people see that we've acted responsibly and in america's best interests, then they will -- we can regain their confidence that we can deal with other broken parts. mr. paul: and i think an
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important point to make about this is that we truly have some philosophic differences with the other side. but what people at home ask me is, when you agree with the other side, when the other side says, we want this part of immigration reform, why can't we do it? that, to me, i see as empty partnership. are we afraid -- empty partisanship. are we afraid to give the republicans credit for doing immigration reform? in the house, in the republican-controlled house? are we afraid to have it perceived as a republican idea? that to me is empty partisanship. this is an issue where we all should be able to agree to on immigration reform and yet the other side will object to moving the ball forward on immigration reform. that i don't understand and that i see as empty partisanship, and that is the dysfunction of this body when we agree on something, we still can't pass it. mr. schumer: mr. president? will you yield for a question?
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mr. cornyn: mr. president, i -- the presiding officer: does the senator yield? mr. cornyn: i'd ask the senator to withhold for a moment. i know that, because die have a unanimous consent -- because i do have a unanimous consent request, and i understand the senator likely will have an objection to, and i've got -- we have other senators who are going to speak. and given the limitation on our time, what i would like to do, mr. president, is ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of calendar number 559, h.r. 6429, that the bill be read a third time and passed, the motion to reconsider be made and laid on the table and that any statements relating to the bill appear at this point in the record. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. schumer: reserving the right to object, and i will object. i'm just going to explain my objection. very simply, mr. president, i heard my colleague from kentucky, he said, if we agree on something, let's pass it. we do agree on creation stem visas. i am offering a proposal that
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just does that and does it in a more fullsome way than the proposal of my friend from texas. but what we don't do is take away other visas or add in other extraneous positions. so i would say the logic of my friend from kentucky is impeccable. but because of constraints on the other side, they could not pass a plain bill that just added stem visas. they had to take away other visas that my colleague from texas doesn't like but many people do. they had to add in a few other provisions. so i would simply say that if my colleague from kentucky says we should join together on something we agree with, i'll bet he agrees with our proposal as well. and i'll bet he agrees with it even more than the other proposal because we add two things that are not in the senator from texas' bill. number one, we allow unused
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stem -- unused stem bill -- unused stem visas to be used to reduce the backlog of employment green cards. there are 200,000 people waiti waiting. it may well be that the 55,000 visas in the senator from texas' bill aren't going to be used up. that's what experts say. and, second, we allow stem green cards to be used by entrepreneurs, a bill that has been introduced by i believe senator coons, senator moran, bipartisan, senator warner as well. so i'm going to object -- object to this bill not because it increases stem visas and not for some larger purpose, although i do understand that if we pick off all the pieces that each of us wants, we're not going to get comprehensive reform, and that is why the hispanic caucus opposes the senator from texas' bill but supports our bill. i understand that, but if you just want to do stem and do it in the best way possible without
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other provisions, because that's what we agree on, i would urge my friend from kentucky and perhaps others on the other side to support our bill. so i will object to the cornyn bill and then i will be offering a -- a bill on the same subject that is purer, cleaner and more full on stem visas than the proposal made by my good friend from texas. mr. cornyn: mr. president? the presiding officer: objection is heard. the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i understand the senator from new york has objected, and of course here we go again, making perfect the enemy of the good and not moving forward on commonsense immigration reform in an area where there is a consensus. the problem -- there are several problems with the senator's proposal. one is it hadn't passed the house. this one has. it has a two-year sunset
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provision, as i understand. there is no family unification provision, and it doesn't eliminate the diversity lottery visa which -- which allows people to get green cards without regard to the qualifications that they bring to this country to create jobs and to start new businesses. i know we have the distinguished senator from north dakota here. mr. schumer: mr. president, might i be recognized to offer my proposal? i had let my friend from texas respond, but i have the -- the presiding officer: will the senator from texas yield? mr. cornyn: mr. president, i would just ask that -- we have four senators here that are prepared to speak, and i just want to make sure we have an adequate time to speak, so any time that has been used by the distinguished senator from new york, that that be not added to our time -- or subtracted from our time, that we retain the total of 45 minutes. the presiding officer: without objection.
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mr. cornyn: under those circumstances, i would yield. mr. schumer: i appreciate the courtesy of my friend and ranking member on the immigration subcommittee. the presiding officer: the senator from new york. mr. schumer: i will now ask unanimous consent that the judiciary committee be discharged from further consideration of s. 3553, the brains act, and the senate proceed to its consideration, that the bill be read a third time and passed, and that the motion to reconsider be laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate. and i would just add -- and i will be brief because i don't want to take from my colleagues' time. again, what this bill does is provide more stem visas than the previous bill. it producers an entrepreneurship visa which the other bill doesn't and it does not take away existing visas which the senator from texas doesn't like but many other people find popular, good and necessary. the unemployment of those on the diversity visas coming in is much lower than that of the national average. and so if we want to pass a pure
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stem bill without extraneous provisions added by people who are antiimmigration because they don't want to see any net increase in immigration, i urge the support of our bill, and i move the bill. the presiding officer: is there objection? the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: reserving the right to object. the problem with the senator's proposal is that this piece of legislation he has referred to has not passed out of committee in the senate. it has not passed the house. this bill, the stem act, has passed the house. it has a two-year sunset provision. this is permanent legislation. it has no family unification provision that will allow the family members, the immediate family members of the green card holder to wait the time when they will become eligible for a green card here in the united states as opposed to back in their country of origin, and it does nothing to promote
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merit-based immigration reform. we ought to be looking at immigration reform from the standpoint not just how does it help the immigrant but how does it help america create jobs and entrepreneurship, and for that reason, i would object. mr. president, at this time i would yield the floor to the distinguished senator from -- i did object. i object. the presiding officer: okay is heard. mr. cornyn: at this time i would yield the distinguished senator from north dakota and then following that the distinguished senator from iowa for any comments they care to make. mr. hoeven: i would like to thank the esteemed senator from texas as well as the senator from kentucky, and i see that our colleague, the senator from iowa, has joined us as well. i rise to speak in support of the stem act but also to respond to the senator from new york. i see that the senator has left, but i do want to respond to some of the points that he made as well.
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in support of the senator from texas. the stem act passed the house. it was house resolution 6429 sponsored by congressman lamar smith. i would grew that it accomplishes both of the things that we are talking about today. it both provides us with the opportunity to have a greater pool of employees with training in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, something that we very much need in this country, and it also accomplishes the diversity that was referred to by the senator from new york. so what we are proposing, what the senator from texas and kentucky and iowa and myself are proposing is to accomplish both goals. we're saying look, we can have these students who have graduated with degrees -- either a doctorate degree or a master's degree in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, things we very much need to get our economy -- help get our economy going and growing.
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a growing economy creates more employment. also creates the revenue without raising taxes that we need to address our deficit and debt. so this, this legislation both accomplishes that goal and still provides an increase in diversity which is what the senator from new york was talking about. and then an additional point is the point that the senator from texas so very clearly made. this legislation passed the house. last time i checked, legislation has to pass the senate and the house. that's a pretty important distinction. going back to the comments of the senator from kentucky. he said hey, if we can't do it all at once because of disagreements, let's start getting done what we can get done. so here is a bill that provides us with -- with people who can help our economy grow, people in the sciences and technology
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fields that we very much need. it will increase diversity just as the senator from new york said, and it's passed the house. common sense says let's go. let's pass the bill. so we very much want to join with the senator from new york and the senator from delaware and the other sponsors that he referred to, but let's join on something that can actually get done, meaning a bill that passes the house as well as the senate. i think that logic is compelling. i look at my own state of north dakota. we're doing amazing things with energy. as a matter of fact, we're hot on the trail of the state of texas when it comes to oil development. we're after you. i'm telling you. but do you know what it's going to take? it's going to take continued development of the technologies that not only help us produce more energy but help us do it with good environmental stewardship. and what we are talking about is making sure that when we have the engineers and the scientists
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and the technicians and the mathematicians that graduate from our great universities with doctorate and master's degrees, they can stay here and help us do it here rather than have it done somewhere else in some other country that then gets ahead of the united states. and i still go back to this will help us solve the fundamental challenges we face today, which is getting this economy growing so we get people back to work and creating the reason to help us with our deficit and our debt. with that, i yield back to the esteemed senator from texas. mr. cornyn: could i ask how much time remains? the presiding officer: 20 minutes. mr. cornyn: i would yield to the distinguished senator from iowa for any comments he cares to make. mr. grassley: i have stood here and listened to the process that -- the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: i have been here and listened to the process about why this bill won't be taken up now. i would like to speak to the
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merits of the legislation and the importance of getting it passed. not only as a senator from iowa but as ranking minority member of the committee of jurisdiction, the judiciary committee. i think this is a very good piece of legislation and i think it ought to be passed and i compliment the senator from texas for leading this debate. i'm proud to support a stem jobs october, a bill passed by the house of representatives last week. this bill would make available up to 55,000 green cards each year for foreign students who have received doctorates or master's degrees in science, technology, engineering and math from any u.s. university. the bill wouldn't increase overall immigration levels, but rather would move our immigration system towards one in which we reward the best and the brightest of the world with
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a chance to remain, live and work in this country. without a doubt, our immigration system is flawed. i have long argued that we need to enhance and expand legal avenues for u.s. employers to hire foreign workers. while i am a champion of rooting out fraud and abuse for many of our visa programs, i am also supportive of finding ways to allow people to enter this country through legal channels. it makes sense to allow foreign students who have trained and educated on u.s. soil to remain here. these students have advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, math, and this bill will ensure that we keep highly skilled and sought-after students here for employers in need. our economy can't wait, it shouldn't have to wait. we need to enact solutions today that create economic growth. we also have no reason to wait
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for next year's likely debate on immigration, attracting and retraining high-skilled workers shouldn't be a partisan issue. the senior member from new york has a similar proposal to grant green cards to stem students. we have heard his argument for that bill today. i can only assume that many people on the other side of the aisle would support this bill if the majority leader gave it a chance. nearly 30 democrats in the house across the aisle helped this bill pass. finally, as we look ahead to immigration reform, it will be important to consider ways our policy benefits future generations, not just solve the problems for a day. our immigration system should be structured in a way to recruit people with skills in the stem fields. this bill is a good first step to changing our system to a merit-based system.
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enhancing our legal immigration channels should be a top priority, and i am committed to working on ways to do that for all sectors of the economy. i hope the majority will reconsider the request that was rejected a few minutes ago and allow the senate to call up and pass the stem jobs act and send it to the president. it would be a signal to the american people that we can work together to enact needed immigration reform, and i thank the senator from texas once again. the presiding officer: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: thank you very much. i appreciate the remarks of the distinguished senator from iowa as well as north dakota, kentucky. you know, i think what people find so maddening about congress and washington, d.c., is even when we agree, we still can't
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seem to get anything done. how is it that we agree on the importance of additional stem card green cards and still not be able to get anything done? and this is about not what's perfect but this is about what is possible given what has happened in the house of representatives. we could do this. we could do this today and send it to the president of the united states in the next couple of days so he could sign it. the question is how many more, how many more years is going to pass while we have these highly qualified students who graduate from our own colleges and universities with master's degrees and ph.d.'s in science, technology, engineering and math, how many years are we going to let this go before we finally address the problem? now, i realize there is other things people would like to do, other legislation they would like to have considered, but
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this it was actually passed the house of representatives. well, the senator from new york, i remember the hearing we had in the senate judiciary subcommittee on immigration of which i am the ranking member, and he said this at that time. this wouldn't be any surprise to him. these are his own words. this is consistent with what he said on the floor. he said if we do not enact an immigration policy that continues to attract the world's best minds, we will cease to be the world's economic leader." that's why i call this is self-inflicted wound. why in the world if we agree that this is important, if we agree that american workers should get the right of first refusal but if there are not sufficient american workers with qualification in these important fields, why in the world would we not allow the creation of jobs and new enterprises that would come with the stem jobs
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act that's passed the house? i are a series of letters, mr. president, one from the chancellors of the university of texas system, texas a&m a&m, tax university system, the university of north texas, and the texas state university system in support of stem legislation. i also have a letter from rice university president david lebraun supporting this same type of legislation. i have a letter dated june 25, 2012, addressed to president obama, leader reid, leader mcconnell, leader pelosi and speaker boehner from the partnership for a new economy, signed by the presidents or chancellors of 42 public or private universities. i have a letter to congress from the information technology industry council, the partnership for a new american
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economy in the united states chamber of commerce supporting stem immigration reform like this bill. i have another letter dated november 15, 2012, to members of congress from the american council on international personnel and the society for human resource management supporting this type of stem legislation. i have another letter dated september 19, 2012, to speaker boehner, leader cantor, whip mccarthy, minority leader pelosi, minority whip hoyer from connect, a u.s. c. san diego commercialization enterprise. i have all these letters and i would ask unanimous consent that they be made a part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: unless i offend my friend at baylor, university,
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in waco, texas, i did overlook a letter i got from the president of that university and i ask unanimous consent it be made part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i think the record should be clear that our side of the aisle believes we should act today and not wait and not delay further this important stem jobs act for the very reason i've said earlier, that it will help job creators and entrepreneurs. the reason stek visas are particularly powerful, because these individuals with special expertise in math, technology, engineering and the like, that they are uniquely qualified to be able to start up new
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enterprises and to attract and create jobs for other people. in other words, there is a multiplier effect. for every one of the 55,000 green cards that would be created by this act, there are hundreds of thousands of people who would enjoy jobs as a result of the economic activity here in this country. mr. president, i hope we don't sacrifice another crop of science, technology, and engineering graduates in the hope that we can get the perfect immigration bill. in fact, we know this is a difficult area in which to legislate, and both sides of the aisle know we need to deal with all of the different facets of our broken immigration system. but this bill has passed the house, it's here and now. we could pass it today by unanimous consent, but for the objection of our friends yoos across the aisle and the objection, amazingly enough,
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from the president of the united states who has claimed for the last four years he's in favor of immigration reform. it's also important in terms of being a confidence builder in terms of the acceptance of this legislation by the american people. the american people are justifiably skeptical of congress passing another omnibus or comprehensive piece of legislation. we've tried that before, and we found out that even if people have read bills going into the thousands of pages in length, that many times there are unintended consequences. so i believe it's very important that we start with this important stem jobs act, that we demonstrate we're worthy of the confidence and trust of the american people when it comes to addressing our broken immigration system, and an area where we have consensus like the stems jobs field, and i tell my colleagues you have my personal commitment that i will be there to work with you to deal with
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other parts of the our broken immigration system as we go forward. but the best way to do that in my opinion is to start here. if we can't pass this legislation, mr. president, and i am skeptical based upon the objection we've heard here today, i wonder if we will ever be able to pass immigration reform. if we can't do this consensus bill, tell me one other piece of legislation that we could pass in this field by agreement of the political parties and send on to the president. indeed, i think there is room to wonder whether some people in this chamber would prefer to have this an issue they they can wield in the next election rather than to join together in a bipartisan basis and solve what's broken in our immigration system. let's start here, let's build on this. we can do it today if we can just somehow avoid the
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objections and to pass this legislation that's been passed by the house. it passes the stem visa bill, it keeps families together, it represents values that i would think both sides of the aisle would applaud. with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mrs. murray: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, middle-class families in our country today are paying very close attention to what we are doing here in washington, d.c. they really understand what is at stake. they know that the impact our decisions will have on their lives, and they keep hoping that their elected officials will finally come together around a budget deal that works for them. less than a month ago, we concluded an election season that engaged our nation in a conversation about this very issue. candidates for the presidency and for the senate on down all laid out their positions on some
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of the key questions that we are now hoping to answer. should the middle-class tax cuts be extended? should the bush tax cuts on the rich end? should we end the medicare guarantee for our seniors and the next generation? well, those big questions were discussed, argued and clear positions were taken, and voters went to polling places on election day to render their verdict. and, mr. president, the outcome was clear. candidates who stood up for the middle class won. candidates who advocated for our seniors came out ahead. and in exit polls across the country, voters made very clear that they strongly supported the idea that the wealthy should pay higher tax rates and their fair share. and everyone -- democrat, republican, independent, wealthy, low income, middle class, students, workers, retirees, older, younger and inbetween -- everyone, everyone
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supports extending the tax cuts for the middle class. nobody thinks that the taxes should go up for 98% of our workers and 97% of our small business owners. so, mr. president, this ought to be easy. the american people just weighed in supporting a continuation of the bush tax cuts for the middle class. it's a policy democrats and republicans agree on. and it would cushion millions of middle-class families across the country from a significant portion of the upcoming so-called fiscal cliff. so why isn't it already in law? why aren't middle-class families already able to feel confident in their taxes not going up? well, for one reason and one reason alone -- house republicans continue to hold the middle class hostage in a desperate and deeply misguided attempt to buck the will of the people, ignore the results of
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this election, and protect the wealthiest americans from paying their fair share. that's really all there is to it. mr. president, if republicans truly cared about keeping taxes low for the middle class, they can do it right now. the senate passed a bill that would extend the tax cuts for 98% of families and 97% of workers. president obama said he'd sign it intaw law. into law. he even showed us the been. all the house has to do is let it come up for a vote, pass it and middle-class families can go into these holidays with the certainty they deserve. mr. president, i want to be very clear about something because some of my republican colleagues seem intent on confusing the issue. republicans don't have to support taxes going up on the rich in order to vote for our bill to keep taxes low on the middle class. let me repeat that. republicans can believe that the bush tax cuts for the rich should be extended, they can
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remain committed to fighting for that misguided policy, in my opinion, and they can still vote on the portion of the tax cuts we all agree should be extended to the middle class. then middle-class families would win, we would have worked together to extend tax cuts for 98% of workers and 97% of small business owners, and then when the middle class is taken care of, i'd be happy to engage my republican colleagues in a debate about extending the bush tax cuts for the top 2%. but the next step, the most obvious step, is for the republican house to take the 98% both sides agree on, pass our senate bill and send it to the president for his significant sig tour. now, mr. president -- for his signature. now, mr. president, recently there have been some cracks in the republican rhetorical armor that has held fast against compromise for years. more and more republicans have begun to accept in their rhetoric that democrats and frankly every bipartisan gliewp has examined this issue have
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known all along -- a deficit deal is going to have to be balanced. it's going to have to include new revenue from the wealthiest american. now, grover norquist calls these imriewr thoughts, buimpure thou. but to most americans, it's common sense. now the onus is on republicans and especially their leadership to follow this encouraging rhetoric with some action. and, mr. president, so far that has been lacking. the lengths to which republicans are now going in order to protect the rich from paying higher rates would be comical if it weren't so detrimental. they say they've accepted that revenue needs to be on the table, but then the proposal that speaker boehner made to the president would actually cut rates for the rich. it lacks any details about where that claimed revenue would come from. and just as an independent analyst confirmed about the ryan plan, and just like we saw in the romney plan, when you're talking about simply closing loopholes and ending deductions, either the math doesn't add up
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or the middle class ends up bearing the entire burden. republicans are tying themselves up in knots to avoid the obvious. easiest way to raise revenue from the wealthiest americans is simply to allow the bush tax cuts for the top 2% to expire as scheduled. that's what the democrats want. it's what the american people support. and it would move us a long way towards balanced and bipartisan dealing we're all working to get to. mr. president, my colleague in the house of representatives, minority leader pelosi, is circulating a discharge petition to bring the senate bill to the house floor. i strongly support this move and i urge house republicans to sign on and allow this legislation to come to the floor for a vote. mr. president, democrats have proven we are willing to make the tough compromises, that a balanced and bipartisan deal will require. and we've been very clear we will not allow republicans to push through a bad deal that
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forces seniors and the middle class to bear this burden all alone. so i'm hopeful that speaker baner and house republicans will decide to -- so i'm hopeful that speaker boehner and house leps will decide to stop holding middle class hostage, allow the senate bill to come to the floor, put it up for a vote and give our middle-class families the tax cuts we all agree on. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. coons: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the proceedings under the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. coons: i rise today to address a challenging situation in mali. mali is a west african country that stretches from the sahara desert to the niger area and is home to nearly 15 million people. yet it is not at the top of concerns for many americans.
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mr. president, this spring back in march a rogue element launch add coupe and forcefully overthrew a long-standing democratically collected government in the nation of mali, our ally. this may seem inconsequential to the average american, but it could have big implications for our security as well as that of our regional and global allies. because in the power vacuum that was created in that spring coup, al qaeda saw an opportunity and they stepped in. three different extremist groups all linked to or controlled by al qaeda in the islamic magra known as aqim now control an area the size of texas in the northern part of mali. they succeeded in fracturing a formerly stable democracy and contributing to broad security, political and humanitarian crises that i believe have grave
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implications for the region and for america's interests. to put it simply, mr. president, this matters. mali, a relatively strong democracy for more than two decades, is now embroiled in turmoil. the united states in partnership with the international community must show leadership in helping it rebuild its democracy and restore its territorial integrity by reclaiming it from terrorists. so thi this morninges as the chr of the african chair subcommittee of the foreign relations subcommittee on which we serve, mr. president, i chaired a hearing to assess developments and the path forward for u.s. policy in mali. what i heard from our experts, from the department of defense, from the state department, from usaid as well as a range of outside experts and one witness who testified from bamaco, the capital of mali, is was of concern to
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me. this is the largest controlled area in the world. in the north, extremists have imposed a harsh and strict version of sharia, or islamic law, and gross human rights violations. many people have heard of timbuktu but don't know it's a city in northern mali. in a site where extremists have behaved much like the taliban did in afghanistan before 9/11, destroying sacred and religious historic artifacts, imposing a harsh version of sharia that has meant amputations, stoning, violation of women's rights and free speech and religious free exercise rights, fundamentalling changing the tolerance and inclusive history of mali and creating with it a humanitarian crisis as more than 400,000 malians have fled, either internally displaced within mali or going to neighboring countries with refugees. with growing ties between these
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terrorists and nigeria, libya and throughout the region, aqim we believe may now use its safe haven in northern mali to plan for regional or trans-national terrorist attacks. and just as we should not have ignored developments in afghanistan which seemed a remote and troubled country when the taliban took it over more than a dozen years ago, so, too, we would ignore the chaos in northern mali at our peril. in fact, secretary clinton has recently said that mali has now become a powder keg of potential instability in the region and beyond. the top american military commander in africa, general carter hamm, said publicly just this week that al qaeda's operating terrorist training camps in northern mali and providing arms, explosives and financing to other terrorist groups in the region. so i believe it's critical that the united states have a strong and comprehensive policy to deal with this threat. i'm concerned that the current
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u.s. approach may not be forward leaning enough to address all three crises -- security, political and humanitarian -- in a coordinated, comprehensive and effective way at the same time. given the compelling u.s. interest in stability and security and good governance in mali, we must ensure we don't miss the bigger picture of what this situation means for the future of mali, to our allies, and to our security. the u.n. security council is now considering what they call a concept of operations for an african-led military operation. the u.s. can and should play a more active role in supporting this and preventing the country from becoming a permanent home for extremists and a safe haven for terrorists. an active role, mr. president, does not mean putting american boots on the ground. instead, we can provide operational support for a regionally led, multilateral, african-led force being organized by eco was, the
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economic community of west african states, and the african union. in the weeks ahead, the u.n. security council will likely vote on a resolution authorizing this coalition to lead a military intervention to dislodge the terrorists in the northern. we've seen models like this wo work, in cote d'ivoire and somalia, so there's reason to believe in the potential of a regional military solution to the security crisis in the north. however, even if this intervention works, it will take time to train and equip and assemble the regional force and to develop the appropriate plans for what happens during and after a military intervention. and, frankly, mr. president, security and stability can't be restored to mali with military action alone. the current crisis is as much about governance as it is about security. a stronger m stronger malian des the best way to ensure short
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gains in the short-term and long-term. but democracy doesn't just begin and end with an election. one of the reasons that mali democracy crumbled so quickly is that malians did not feel connected to or well served by their government. voter turnout in the last few elections was lower and lower, with the government viewed as corrupted, social service not benefiting the relatively sparsely populated north, and institutions nationwide that were weak. the political and security challenges in mali are two sides of the same coin. they're not separate issues. so i will urge that we break down silos between departments and agencies in our government and take a comprehensive view. if we focus on the political only and insist on mali moving forward briskly with an election, even when the security situation will prevent most northern malians from meaningfully participating, i think we risk potentially strengthening the hands of those who want to ensure that mali's regional divide is permanent and hand a symbolic victory to al qaeda. on the other hand, if we rush
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forward with a security solution, with a regional military intervention before it's adequately planned for, before they are responsibly trained and equipped, we risk defeat on that front as well. i think we can and should do better. we can work closely with our allies, with regional partners, and the international community address all the security, political and humanitarian crises unfolding in mali. effective, inclusive elections early next year should be one goal but not the only one. we also have to address the ongoing humanitarian crisis of the 400,000 displaced persons and refugees and the more than 4.5 million people in need of emergency food aid in the regi region, and the security crisis of terrorists controlling an area this large. to bring long-term's and stability to mali -- long-term peace and stability to mali and to ensure that northern mali doesn't slide into being the base of operations for the next al qaeda attack on our allies, our intaz broad o our ir
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even the united states, we can't afford to ignore any of the pieces of this complex puzzle. mr. president, the united states simply cannot afford, despite the many distractions and other priorities facing us, to ignore mali. and i pledge to work in great partnership with my colleagues here in the senate and my friends on the senate foreign relations committee to ensure an effective engagement by the united states in this important area. thank you. and with that, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? mr. whitehouse: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: thank you, mr. president. last week i came to the floor and spoke about our nation's military and intelligence leaders acknowledging, along with our nation's scientific leaders, the clear evidence that carbon pollution is changing our climate. unfortunately, there continues to be some confusion among many americans regarding the clear scientific consensus but that is
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confusion caused by deliberate and coordinated attempts to mislead the american people. for more than two decades now, the climate denial movement has been well organized and funded by the fossil fuel industry and conservative ideologues and foundations. the mission of these paid-for deniers is to manufacture uncertainty, to manufacture doubt so the polluters can keep on polluting. this isn't a new strategy. we've seen self-serving strategies like this before. these strategies questioned the merits of requiring seat belts in cars. they questioned c.f.c.'s causing deterioration of the ozone layer. they questioned the toxics -- toxic effects of lead exposure for children. they questioned whether tobacco was really bad for you.
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same strategy to manufacture doubt, often actually the same cast of characters involved. while the congress of the united states has been distracted and deceived by these ploys, climate change marches on. the laws of chemistry and the laws of physics don't care about the nonsense we're up to in this building. they do what the laws of chemistry and physics say. precious time is wasting. in the balance hang lives and jobs. this nonsense has gone on long enough. the public is being misled. special interest dollars pulled the strings of sophisticated campaigns to give the impression that there is a real scientific debate regarding whether or not climate change is happening. well, there isn't. there just isn't. the real scientific debate is about how bad the changes will
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be. here's one example out of my home state's "warrick beacon" in an article entitled, "sandysanda wake-up call to climate change." it describes the head of our coastal resources management council saying, "i can" -- he's talking about sea level rise and here's what he says. "i can tell you that it is real. i can't tell you how" -- hang on. i need my glasses to see this one. "i can tell you that it is real. i can't tell you how fast or how bad it is." just what i said. the real scientific debate is actually about how bad the changes are going to be. to manufacture doubt to allow the polluters to keep polluting, skeptics with little training in climate science are promoted as experts. front groups, such as the global
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climate coalition, information council for the environment, heartland institute, annapolis center, and cooler heads coalition are created or enlisted to propagate this message of doubt. deniers question the motives and engage in harassment of the real credentialed climate scientists. well, for the record, there has been scientific debate regarding climate change. ideas have been tested, theories have been ventured, and the evidence keeps coming back to the same conclusion: increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from human-related sources is strengthening the greenhouse effect, adding to recent warming, and acidifying the oceans. actually, the evidence coming in tends to confirm the worst and most dangerous projections. mr. president, may i interrupt my remarks and ask unanimous consent that morning business be
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extended until 2:00 p.m. with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehousemr. whitehouse: ak unanimous consent that that exchange be moved to the beginning or the end of my remarks so they're uninterrupted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: thank you. claims, for instance, that solar activity is causing recent global warming and even about whether the atmosphere's really warming have been settled. but when the scientific research doesn't work out for the skeptics, they turn to strawman arguments. one strawman is that extreme weather events, such as hurricanes and droughts, aren't proof of climate change. well, let's be clear. no credible source is arguing that extreme events are proof of climate change. but extreme events are associated with what has been staring us in the face for yea years -- the average global temperature is increasing, average sea level is rising, and
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average ocean acidity is increasing." when averages change, extremes usually change with them, and a warming climate, to use the best example, loads the dice, loads the dice for extreme weather. so let's look at some of the other games that the deniers play to try to manipulate public opinion. one gimmick that they've reverted to is the observation that there's been no warming trend in the last ten years. no warming trend, they say, in the last ten years. in 2010, a republican senator said -- quote -- "i don't think that anyone disagrees with the fact that we actually are in a cold period that started about nine years ago." well, let's look at the facts. let's start with the green line on this graph. the green line is the global surface temperature data.
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it's not a projection. it's not a hypothesis. it's a measurement. this is global surface temperature data. and as you can see, it changes seasonally. now, the red line that goes through it is the trend line that is mathematically developed from that data. that trend line is the product of basic and undeniable mathematics. and the trend is extremely cle clear. so let's look at what the deniers do with the very same data. leave that one up. put this one right in front of it. here they take the very same data. the green line is unchanged. it's exactly the same data. and this is how they get to saying that we've had a cooling period for the past ten years. they pick a high point and they pick a low point out of this data and they say that's their
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ten-year cooling period. the problem is, if you go back, here's another one and here's another one and here's another one and here's another one. interesting how all the cooling periods stack up to an increasee what's the guy on the radio? and he explains something to you and it didn't seem quite right. then he said, paul harvey what's the rest of the story. if you pick one on the line and pick another one later, you can manufacture the hypothesis that there has been no warming trend in the last ten years. but if you do it legitimately, if you run an actual trend line
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with mathematical precision through the data, it shows that this theory is nothing but misleading bunk. misleading bunk designed for the purpose of creating confusion. this, of course, this period is only a recent portion of the temperature record. skeptics and deniers look deeper into the past, they find even more straw men, that the earth climate always changes, it's been warmer in the past. the earth has seen different climates in the past, not all of them ones we would want to live in now, by the way. the reason we know about these climates is because of the excellent work done by scientists, the same scientists who tell us that recent climate change can only be explained by increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. then the final classic is that
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more carbon in the atmosphere is good because it provides more food for plants. the old plant food theory. well, the fact is we have changed the composition of our atmosphere. pushing the concentration of carbon dioxide beyond the range that it has been in for 8,000 centuries. for 8,000 centuries it's been between 170 and 300 parts per million. for the first time this past year it touched 400 parts per million in the arctic. to give you a time scale of what 8,000 centuries means, the practice of agriculture has been around for about 100 centuries. 8,000 centuries in this safe zone of carbon concentration of our atmosphere, only 100
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centuries of those were the human species even farmers. modern humans began to migrate out of africa 600 centuries ago. 8,000 centuries of this safe climate belt of carbon concentration, 600 centuries of our species leaving africa and migrating to populate the rest of our planet. homosapiens, our species, appeared around 2,000 centuries ago. so we're messing with planetary concentrations of atmospheric carbon that go back four times longer than our species has inhabited this planet. in all of that time, in those 8,000 centuries, the earth has never reached carbon dioxide concentrations like what we have caused now through human
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activity. denicer tend to just flat -- deniers tend to ignore the fact they can't explain away the data. the increased acidification of the oceans, that is something that is simple to measure. it is undeniably chemically linked to carbon concentrations in the atmosphere. so we hear nothing about ocean acidification from the deniers, but ocean acidification is possibly the most disastrous consequence of our carbon pollution. the rate of change in acidity of our oceans is already thought to be faster than at any time in the past 50 million years. now i was talking a moment ago about being outside of a boundary of carbon concentration, an atmosphere that is persistent for 800,000 years. now we're talking about a rate
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of change in acidity in the ocean that hasn't been seen on this planet in the past 50 million years. a paper published this march in "science" concluded that the current rate of carbon dioxide emissions could drive chemical changes in the ocean unparalleled in the past 300 million years. we are effecting changes in our atmosphere and in our oceans that only compare to ancient periods of geologic time. when you consider the implications for food security, biodiversity and ocean-based industries, we cannot ignore these changes in our oceans. and just coincidentally, last friday the national oceanic and atmospheric administration proposed listing 66 species of corral as endangered or threatened and cited climate change as driving three key threats: disease, warmer seas and more acidic seas.
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it might be worth reminding the deniers what nasa says, the national air and space administration, what nasa says about climate change. here's what they say about global temperature rising -- and i quote -- "all three major global surface temperature reconstructions show that earth has warmed since 1880. most of this warming has occurred since the 1970's with the 20 warmest years having occurred since 1981 rand with all ten of the warmest years occurring in the past 12 years. even though the 2000's witnessed a solar decline in 2007 to 2009, surface temperatures continue to increase. on ocean temperature and sea level rise, nasa said -- and i quote -- "the oceans have absorbed much of this increased heat with the top 2,300 feet
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showing warming of .302 degrees tparpb heat since 1969. global sea level rose about 6.7 inches in the last century. the rate of sea level rise in the last decade, however, is nearly double that of the last century. and on ocean acidification, since the beginning of the industrial revolution, the acidity of surface ocean waters has increased by about 30%. this increase is the result of humans emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. let me say that again. this increase is the result of humans emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by the upper layer of the oceans is increasing by about two billion tons per year. end quote. mr. president, nasa scientists put a man on the moon.
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nasa sign streufts put a rover -- scientists have put a rover right now driving around on the planet mars. they are the not the kwaubgs. our nation's -- they are not the quacks. our nation's best and brightest minds are accepting climate change and urging us to act. for some, deniers carry the day. why? in a weekend editorial titled "flight from facts," my home state, providence journal said -- and i quote -- "the g.o.p. is winning the race to avoid evidence. some of this escapism based on a desire to hold on to what had been comforting, if error-based, traditional beliefs. and some of it to avoid policies that might be economically and otherwise inconvenient. well, whatever the reason, the
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price of our folly will be very, very high for future generations. one of the things i've noticed on this floor is that when it's a question of putting the cost on our children and grandchildren of taking care of their grandparents, oh, how the republican crocodile tears flow about that unfair burden on children and grandchildren. in one of their attacks on medicare and social security, which the republicans like to call entitlements, we heard this -- quote -- "we have got a serious spending problem here, and we need to have an impact on entitlements. if we're going to have entitlements for our children and grandchildren when they reach retirement age, we have got to change the trajectory." the minority leader has also spoken about what appears in his remarks to be the health care bill, the obamacare bill. and he worried about it -- quote
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-- "creating a more precarious future for our children." the minority leader said about the stimulus effort to get our economy back on its feet, "this needs to stop for the future of our country and for our children and for our grandchildren." when it's the deficit, he's urged us to make sure we have the same kind of country for our children and grandchildren that our parents left for us. he's even talked about, and i quote, the europeanization of america. and as a result of that europeanization of america, whatever that is, i quote -- "our children and grandchildren could no longer expect to have the same opportunities that we've had." mr. president, on virtually every traditional anti-obama republican tea party bug bear -- medicare, obamacare, the stimulus, the deficit, even this
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europeanization of america, out come the children and grandchildren. well, let's assume they are sincere. let's assume they have a sincere concern for what we are leaving to our children and grandchildren. so, when it comes to big corporate polluters of today leaving our children and grandchildren a damaged and more dangerous planet, where then is the concern for those children and grandchildren? to have children and grandchildren pay for the care of their grandparents through medicare and social security is some kind of sin or outrage. but to force on those same children and grandchildren the
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untold costs and consequences of the harms done by today's corporate polluters, what do they have to say about that? well, for that the future generation's interest received nothing from the republican party but stony silence or tpaoepby and calculated -- phony and calculated denial. but the cost will be on them. the cost will fall on our children and our grandchildren of our negligence and folly in not addressing our carbon pollution. the cost will be on them, and the shame will be on us. mr. president, i yield the floor. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from mississippi. a senator: i ask unanimous consent that i be allowed to speak as -- the presiding officer: we're in a quorum call. a senator: i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. wicker: and now i ask unanimous consent i be allowed to speak as if in morning business for up to six minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. the senator from mississippi is recognized. mr. wicker: thank you, mr. president. in a few moments, the distinguished chair of the finance committee and the senator from utah will commence debate on -- on h.r. 6156, the russian-moldova, jackson-vanik repeal and sergei magnitsky rule of law accountability act of 2012. because of scheduling concerns, i am speaking on this bill as in
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morning business and that allow time for other members to speak. at this point, on behalf of the senator from maryland, mr. cardin, i ask unanimous consent that floor privileges be granted to kyl parker, a staff member on the commission on security and cooperation in europe, also known as the helsinki commission, which i cochair -- which senator cardin cochairs, during senate consideration of h.r. 6156. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. wicker: thank you, mr. president. and, again, i come to the floor today to support this bill. it has is very important two-fold purpose. it promotes normal trade relations with russia, and at the same time the legislation insists that the russian government adhere to the rule of law. it does so by putting consequences in place for those in russia who abusive human rights, basic human rights. granting pntr to russia is a big
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win for americans. if congress does not act, american workers, including millions employed by small businesses, stand to lose out to foreign competitors as russia opens its market as a new member of the world trade organization. many in my home state of mississippi and around the country deserve to benefit from increased trade that this new relationship would bring. more jobs and greater economic growth are our potential rewards here in the united states. last year, mississippi's $55 million in exports to russia helped support an estimated 170 jobs. certainly, this number needs to grow, and i believe it will under this legislation. yet in realizing the immense trade potential at hand, we cannot ignore the urgent need to address serious concerns about russia's appalling human rights record. most agree that the jackson-vanik amendment
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currently in place is an outdated restriction on trade which could hurt american competitiveness. but repeal alone will not suffice when dealing with a country that continues to protect corrupt officials, and that is what the russian government continues to do. the sergei magnitsky rule of law accountability act is a necessary replacement for jackson-vanik. the legislation targets human rights violators by imposing restrictions on their financial activities and travel. it recognizes that the privilege of using america's banking system and acquiring a u.s. visa should be denied to those who disgrace human dignity and justice. facts need to be retold today about the case of sergay magnitsky after whom this looking is named. sergei magnitsky was a lawyer and partner with an
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american-owned law firm based in moscow. he was married and had two children. in his investigative work on behalf of the hermitage fund, the largest foreign portfolio investor in russia, mr. magnitsky uncovered the largest tax rebate fraud in russian history. he found that russian interior ministry officers, tax officials and organized criminals had worked together to steal $230 million in public funds. in 2008, mr. magnitsky voluntarily gave sworn testimony against officials from the interior ministry, russian tax departments and the private criminals who he discovered were complicit in the fraud. a month later, instead of being commended for doing the right thing, mr. magnitsky was arrested in front of his wife and children and placed in pretrial detention. he was held without a trial for
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one year. the russian federal security service deemed mr. magnitsky was a flight risk to prolong his detention based on false claims that he had a u.k. visa application. while in custody, mr. magnitsky was tortured by officials hoping he would withdraw his testimony and falsely incriminate himself and his client. refusing to do so, his conditions and his health worsened. he stayed in an overcrowded cell with no heat, no sunlight and no toilet. the lights were kept on throughout the night to deprive him of sleep. mr. magnitsky lost 40 pounds and suffered from severe pan korea at this time is and gallstones. months went by without any access to medical care. despite hundreds of petitions, requests for medical examination
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and surgery were denied by russian government officials. so were family visits. after his arrest, mr. magnitsky saw his wife once and never again saw his children. on november 13, 2009, sergei magnitsky's condition detear your waited dramatically. doctors saw him on november 16. he was transferred to a moscow detention center that had medical facilities, and instead of being treated there immediately, he was placed in an isolation cell, handcuffed, beaten and subsequently sergei magnitsky died. after his death, russian officials repeatedly denied the facts surrounding his health condition. requests by his family for an independent autopsy were rejected. detention center officials said mr. magnitsky's abdominal
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membrane had ruptured and that he died from toxic shock. the official cause of death would blame heart failure. according to the russian state investigative committee, mr. magnitsky was not pressured and tortured but died naturally of heart disease. the committee said his death was -- quote -- "nobody's fault." unquote. now, for three years, not a single person has been prosecuted for mr. magnitsky's false arrest, torture, murder or for the massive fraud that he had the courage to expose. like many of my colleagues, i continue to have real concerns about the current state of human rights and rule of law in russia. i have come to the floor on numerous occasions demanding accountability for russia's rampant extrajudicial offenses. tragically, mr. magnitsky is not
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the only victim of the country's criminal regime. the cases of mikhail and others who remain be in prison are also examples of the corruption that pervades the russian government. my friend, the junior senator from maryland, has shown tremendous leadership on this issue, and i commend him for his steadfast dedication to the high standards of democracy and justice. i have long supported senator cardin's efforts to use the magnitsky act as a way to protect human rights globally. the magnitsky act is a simple, straightforward call for justice. it signals to the world that america will uphold its commitment to the protection of human rights and the rule of law. it is a tool that could be extremely powerful in penalizing human rights violators everywhere. many of us had hoped to achieve a bicameral consensus in
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applying the magnitsky act globally. although global language is not included in the house bill being considered today, sanctions against human rights violations in russia and within the russian government are still an important victory. it moves us in the right direction, mr. president. i hope we can work in the next congress to consider broadening the reach of the magnitsky act. russia is not alone in its human rights abuses, and the united states' unwavering stance against corruption should not stop there. pntr with russia is an important vehicle for american trade, and it should serve as a reminder for our country's role in promoting the advancement of human rights at the same time. i remain committed to supporting this role as we move forward. thank you, mr. president. at this time i would -- does the
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gentleman from utah wish that i yield the floor or should we go back into quorum call? mr. hatch: no thank you. mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. hatch: i just want to ask unanimous consent for staff to come on the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from utah is recognized. mr. hatch: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that steven garrett, christopher hannah, sean novak, lauren felise and richard chevanak of the finance committee be granted floor privileges for the duration of senate consideration of h.r. 6156 and for the remainder of this session of congress. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. hatch: i thank you, mr. president. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll of the senate. quorum call:
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mr. kerry: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. mr. kerry: i ask further proceedings of the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. kerry: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that morning business be extended until the majority leader comes to the floor. the presiding officer: without objection. the senator is recognize as if in morning business. mr. kerry: mr. president, i'm going to speak in morning business, but as if we were in fact on and moving to the question of the russia pntr. and i would ask simply that my comments appear in the appropriate place in the record. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. kerry: thank mr. president. mr. president, the chairman of the finance committee right now, senator baucus, is tied up with a scheduling conflict, working on the fiscal cliff issue. so he asked me if i would kick off the debate with respect to the pntr, russia pntr, h.r. 5166, the russia and moldova
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jackson-vanik repeal and sergei magnitsky accountability act of 2012. i'm very happy to do this on behalf of senator baucus. we shared a great partnership together as chairman of our two committees, focused on trade and on the relationship with russia, both of which come together in the legislation today. i would be remiss, however, mr. president, if i didn't say a word about what consumed the senate yesterday with the vote on the disabilities act treaty. it is certainly a moment that stands out in my memories here in the united states senate. i can't think of any other time when a former majority leader has come to the floor, a veteran, and sought to have his colleagues join together in supporting something that would improve the life of people with disabilities. i'm not going to go back and reargue it now.
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that would be fruitless and i think not helpful to where we want to move to. what we do want to move to is a place where we can pass this. and i can say today -- i believe this -- i can say to senator robert dole, we will pass the disabilities treaty, and we will pass it, i believe, early next year. and i base that on the fact that some senators had difficulties with the fact that we are in a lame-duck session and they had signed a letter which regrettably, some of them didn't digest completely but nevertheless signed saying that they wouldn't take up a treaty in a lame-duck session. and i think some felt compelled by that. others felt compelled by other things. but here's what i think we can do. starting next year i believe we can move to additional hearings that can make crystal clear to all colleagues the state as it
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may not have been yesterday in some cases with respect to both the law and the facts as it applies to persons with disabilities. and i pledge now to make certain that within the resolution of advice and consent, any concern that was not adequately addressed -- i personal believe they were addressed, but it is possible that we can find the language that will address the concerns of any senator yesterday who felt, whether it was the united nations or home schooling, i believe those things can be adequately addressed. i do know that a number of senators said they would be prepared to vote for it after we are out of the lame-duck session. and i am confident that we will pass the disabilities treaty in a different atmosphere at a different time. one of the things i learned from my senior colleague, ted kennedy, who did this for so many years, is that perseverance
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pays off when the issue is worth fighting for. and we always have another day and another vote in the united states senate. and that always affords us the opportunity to make things right. and we're certainly going to try and do that. now, mr. president, this pntr magnitsky bill is in fact one of those opportunities where we can start to put the senate on the right track. and i think all of us would look forward to a chance to be able to do that. this bill passed the house of representatives by a huge margin of 365-43. and what it would do is establish permanent normal trade relations for russia and would require the identification and imposition of sanctions on individuals who are responsible for the detention, abuse and death of sergei magnitsky and
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other gross violations of human rights. let me make my best argument, if i can, in favor of the bill, and then i want to turn the discussion over to the ranking member, senator hatch, to present his case for passage. and after that, the presiding president of the senate at this moment, senator cardin, will lead a discussion on the provisions in the act that are related to honoring the memory of sergei magnitsky and combatting the types of human rights abuses that led to his premature and tragic death. i want to congratulate the chair and salute him for his significant efforts. he has been dogged, and that component of this legislation would not be here today if it weren't for the senator from maryland's efforts. chairman baucus will then, i think, have been able to return here to manage the rest of the consideration on the floor at that time. mr. president, as you know,
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chairman baucus and i lead the two senate committees to the charge of overseeing the twin pillars of america's unique role in the world. our commitment to open, transparent free markets and our commitment to democracy and open discourse is a force for international peace. we believe that our global economic interests and our foreign policy values are closely tied together. they should be closely tied together. and that's why we urge our colleagues to seize this opportunity that russia's succession to the world trade organization presents for both job creation and our ability to bind russia to a rule-based system of trade and dispute resolution. granting russia permanent normal trade relations is as much in our interest as it is in theirs. frankly, that's what ought to
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guide the choices that we make in the senate. the up side of this policy is clear on an international landscape. it is one that really offers this kind of what i would call, frankly, a kind of one-sided trade deal, one that promises billions of dollars in new u.s. exports and thousands of new jobs in america that is certainly in our interest. russia is today the world's seventh-largest economy. having officially joined the w.t.o. on august 22, russia is now required by its membership in the w.t.o. to lower tariffs and to open up to new imports. that sudden jump in market access is, frankly, important to any country that is the first country through the door. and if we don't pass this trade legislation, we will not be
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among those countries. i can tell you that massachusetts, speaking for my state, welcomes access to the russian market. and we want that access to be played out on a level playing field. the state of massachusetts exported $120 million worth of goods to russia last year, and those exports obviously support hundreds of jobs. but if we don't pass this bill, those exports will face competition from other countries that will not pay the same high-level tariff that we currently pay. so just take one specific example. massachusetts exported $18.5 million in medical equipment to russia in 2011, but we face strong competition from china, which increased its share of the russian market in each of the last ten years. mr. president, we don't shy away
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from strong competition, but we want that competition to be able to be played out on an even playing field. and as long as we don't have normal permanent trade relations with russia, we're disadvantaging ourselves. it simply doesn't make sense. russia has agreed he, since joining the w.t.o., russia agreed to reduce average tariffs on medical equipment to 4.3% and to cut its top tariffs from 15% down to 7%. as it stands now, that is a benefit that china will get, and we will not. it simply doesn't make sense to anybody. to grant russia pntr status requires us to repeal the 1974 jackson-vanik amendment. a lot of our staff members, i hasten to say, were not even
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born back when jackson-vanik was put in place. and many of our colleagues and a lot of our staff have studied the soviet union but have never really experienced that period of time, and what we're living with is a complete and total relic of a bygone era. congress passed jackson-vanik during the cold war, and we passed it to pressure the soviet union to allow russian jews to be able to emigrate freely. it was very successful. it worked. and the kremlin, as a result of it, worked with us and others to help jews to be able to emigrate. as a result, every single united states president has, regardless of political party, has waived
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jackson-vanik's requirements for russia since 1994. the american-israel public affairs committee, the national conference on soviet jewry, and the government of israel now all support the repeal of jackson-vanik for russia. and with two million americans still searching for jobs all across our country, our manufacturing sector needs every boost that it can get. we cannot afford to retain jackson-vanik any longer. this is in america's interest. despite progress, our trade deficit remains too wide. and i think that seizing this opportunity to increase exports to russia is one very obvious way to be able to make concrete progress in reducing that trade deficit. u.s. exports to russia total more than $9 billion a year. establishing pntr for russia could double that number in just
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five years, according to one recent study. that could mean thousands of new jobs across every sector of our economy. and with the russian economy's impressive growth, russia is expected to outgrow jury room ni by about 2029 -- to outgrow skwroeupl -- to outgrow germany by 2029. none of us is going to suggest that every issue with respect to russia has been resolved. we know there are still points of tension, and some of them in the foreign policy area are very relevant today. for instance, over syria. we understand that. we hope that at recent events, syria may be moving russia and the united states closer in terms of our thinking. but it is only a good thing to
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bring russia into a rules-based system with mechanisms for peaceful, transparent dispute resolution. there is no debate. and i think the chair knows this full well, that the very tragic and senseless death of anticorruption lawyer sergei magnitsky who died while in russian custody, that those events are simply unacceptable. they're appalling. and it highlights a human rights problem that has grown in its scope, not diminished. it's one we hope to be able to resolve with good relationships and good discussions. senator cardin, a sponsor of that legislation, in the house of the senate is going to speak shortly about it, and i will leave him to describe in full the nature of that particular component of this bill.
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suffice it to say, that human rights -- democracy and transparency activists in russia favor the passage of constructive human rights legislation in our congress. and they also see w.t.o. manipulate and increased trade with the united states as an avenue towards progress. so there is no contradiction in what is happening here. they all understand as we all should that repealing jackson-vanik is not a blanket acceptance of any particular policy or approach in russia. it's certainly not an approach of what -- an acceptance of what happened with respect to sergei magnitsky. that is because of the magnitsky legislation. repealing the bill, repealing jackson-vanik is not an economic give-away to russia. to the contrary, it represents, as i have described, an enormous
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opportunity for the united states to compete on a fair playing field with other countries and to create more jobs here in the united states. by attack pntr with russia, u.s. businesses will win increased market access without giving up anything in return. there will be no tariff changes, no market concessions. nothing. it frankly diminishes the willingness of some hard lines lines -- hard-liners in russia to distort the current dialogue and distort the possibilities of a better relationship, which we want with russia. and so we will by taking this away, we will reduce the abuse of jackson-vanik as a rhetorical tool to rally anti-american sentiment in russia. i believe that we can do something very important here today, and both our economy and our foreign policy will be
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better off for the effort. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. hatch: mr. president, we will soon vote on h.r. 6156, the russia and moldova jackson-vanik repeal and sergei magnitsky rule of law accountability act of 2012. now, the trade elements of this bill are identical to the legislation which passed the u.s. senate finance committee by unanimous vote on june 19, 2012. the bill repeals the application of the jackson-vanik amendment to russia and moldova which would enable u.s. workers and job creators to fully benefit from russia and model oaf -- moldova's accession to the world trade organization. this will also help battle systemic corruption within
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russia. after 18 years of hard-fought negotiations under both republican and democratic administrations, president obama finalized the terms of russia's ascension to the w.t.o. on november 10, 2011. russia was invited to join the organization on december 16, 2011, and officially joined in august of this year. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the remarks on pntr be placed within whatever the time agreement ultimately is. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. hatch: and i'd like my remarks not to be interrupted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. hatch: now that russia is a member of the w.t.o., for our workers to benefit, congress really has no choice but to extend permanent normal relations to russia through appeal of the -- repeal of the application of the jackson-vanik amendment. russia is now a member of the w.t.o., but they are under no
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obligation to extend the economic benefits of their membership to the united states unless we have normal trade relations. simply put, if congress does not act, our workers and exporters will be at a serious disadvantage in trying to export their goods and services to the russian market, and that will cost us jobs here at home. given our weak economic recovery, if it is a recovery, it is critical that congress does everything it can to help u.s. workers to compete. there are many economic benefits to russia's w.t.o. obsession. under the terms of its ascension, russia must cut tariffs on manufactured products, reduce duties on foreign products, open its service markets to u.s. firms, meet international intellectual property rights standards and reduce customs clearance fees. if russia fails to meet any of its commitments, russia will be subject to w.t.o. dispute
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settlement proceedings. russia is an attractive market for american exporters. it is the world's 11th largest economy with more than 140 million consumers, and the last major economy to join the world trade organization. american companies and workers must compete on a level playing field with our foreign competitors and russia to succeed. when president obama first asked congress to remove russia from long-standing human rights legislation and grant permanent normal trade relations for russia, he suggested that we do it unconditionally. even before russia joined the w.t.o., president obama and his team argued that congress should quickly pass a clean bill. given the myriad problems we have with russia, it is -- it has always been very hard for me to understand this position. president obama and his team appeared almost manic in their attempts to avoid offending
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president putin and his government or doing anything at all to upset their failed reset policy. fortunately, just as congress did in 1974 when they created jackson-vanik, we insisted on more. working side by side with our senate and house colleagues in both parties, we drafted a bill which serves our economy and replaces the application of the jackson-vanik amendment with policies more appropriate for the realities in russia today. we should all be justly proud of our bipartisan effort. basically, the bill we will vote on fills many of the gaps in president obama's policy toward russia. for example, rather than ignore continuing human rights abuse and corruption in russia, my friends and colleagues, senators mccain and cardin, joined together with many others to craft a bill to help combat deep-rooted and institutionalized corruption within russia. this bill became the sergei
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magnitsky rule of law and accountability act. by the end of this debate, the american people will be intimately familiar with the name sergei magnitsky. briefly, sergei was a russian tax lawyer investigated by the russian government for alleged tax evasion and fraud. in reality, sergei was targeted by government officials for his role in uncovering tax fraud and corruption within the russian government. sergei was arrested and held for 11 months without trial. while in prison, sergei was subject to mistreatment and torture and was eventually beaten to death. unfortunately, such sad stories are all too common in russia today. rather than tolerate such injustice, my friends, senators mccain and cardin, introduced legislation to impose sanctions on individuals responsible for or who benefited financially
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from the detention, abuse and/or death of sergei magnitsky, as well as other human rights abusers. their efforts resulted in the inclusion of provisions in this bill which i am pose visa restrictions and asset freezes on those involved in human rights abuses in russia. this will be a powerful new tool to battle corruption within russia, and corrupt russian officials will no longer be able to travel to the united states or hide their ill-gotten gains in many western institutions. the magnitsky act represents an admirable replacement of the jackson-vanik amendment to address the situation in russia today. president obama opposed efforts to include their provisions, concerned that holding russian government officials accountable for their crimes might offend president putin and undermine the administration's ill-conceived reset policy.
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i am proud that my house and senate colleagues stood firm on the side of justice and demanded that these provisions be included. jackson-vanik served its purpose with respect to russia and should be revoked. but in its place, we should respond to russia's continued corruption and human rights violations. there were many other gaps in president obama's russia policy to help fill these gaps, i worked with my senate finance committee colleagues to add provisions to the permanent normal trade relations bill introduced by our chairman, chairman baucus, that addressed a number of these issues. first i work with senator kyl to develop language to further advance anticorruption efforts in russia by requiring the u.s. trade representative and the secretary of state to report annually on their efforts to promote the rule of law and u.s. investment in russia. we also included the provision to assist u.s. businesses, especially small businesses, to battle corruption in russia by
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requiring the secretary of commerce to devote a phone hotline and secure web site to allow u.s. citizens and businesses to report on corruption, bribery and attempted bribery in russia and to request the assistance of the u.s. government, if needed. i was also highly disappointed that the administration did not finalize an s.p.s. equivalency agreement with russia before agreeing to let them join the w.t.o. under an s.p.s. equivalency agreement, russia would recognize our food safety standards as equivalent to its own, thereby reducing costs and burdensome paperwork on u.s. exporters. today's bill requires the trade representative to continue efforts to negotiate a bilateral s.p.s. equivalency agreement with russia. in an effort to apply continued pressure on the administration to resolve these problems, we included language requiring the
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trade representative to report to congress annually on russia's implementation of its w.t.o. sanitary and potosanitary obligations. intellectual property rights protections in russia remains poor. to make sure that russia meets its commitment in this area, we included language requiring the trade representative to report annually on russia's compliance with its w.t.o. intellectual property rights obligations. as part of its ascension package, russia committed to joining the w.t.o. information technology agreement. once they are a member, this agreement will allow a number of additional u.s. high technology products to be exported to russia duty free. unfortunately, russia today -- has to date failed to fully live up to this commitment, even though russia became a member of the w.t.o. in august.
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to ensure that the administration -- the presiding officer: order, please, in the chamber. thank you. mr. hatch: i thank the chair. to ensure that the administration holds russia's feet to the fire, the trade representative must report annually on russia's compliance with this commitment as well as its commitment to join the w.t.o. government procurement agreement. when the ambassador testified before the committee in june, he committed to continue efforts to develop an intellectual property rights action plan which implements russia's obligations under a 2006 bilateral i.p.r. agreement with the united states. that agreement goes beyond russia's w.t.o. commitments, requiring, among other things, that russia take enforcement actions against russia-based web sites posting infringing content, implement the world intellectual property organization copyright treaty
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and performances and enact a system of data exclusivity for pharmaceuticals. i understand the administration is working on completing that action plan quickly and that our workers will soon be able to benefit from the agreement reached in 2006. to ensure that this is the case, this bill requires the administration to continue efforts to finalize that agreement. russia's w.t.o. commitments go far beyond intellectual property rights. given president obama's past reluctance to hold russia accountable for its actions, i wanted to make a tool available to congress and the american people to put pressure on the administration to make sure that russia lives up to its international commitments. so we included language which provides an opportunity for public comment and hearings on russia's compliance with its obligations. if there are areas where russia is not in compliance with its
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obligations, the administration is required to develop an action plan to address them and then provide an annual report on their enforcement efforts to bring russia into compliance. i believe this package of modifications vastly improves the bill. the trade representative's general counsel apparently agrees, stating during congressional testimony that this bill provides the strongest passage of enforcement measures for us at ustr to move forward and ensure full compliance once russia joins w.t.o., unquote. mr. president, it was over 30 years ago that senator henry jackson and congressman charles vannic stood up -- vanik stood up to their president and demanded that the administration address policies that denied individuals, especially jews, the right to emigrate from russia and other communist nations. their work became known as the
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jackson-vanik amendment. the policies embodied in that amendment helped create the environment for literally hundreds of thousands of jews to emigrate from former -- from the former soviet union, many of them to their homeland of israel. jackson-vanik served its purpose in russia, but today we act to address the issues on the ground in russia as we debate this bill. today, congress will once again lead the way to help shape the future of u.s.-russian relations. approval of this bill will help establish a framework for addressing the myriad economic problems we face with russia's government. if the administration uses these tools effectively, we will see the fruits of our efforts as we one day work side by side with a russia free from corruption and in full compliance with its international obligations. mr. president, i urge my colleagues to join me and my
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colleagues on the other side of the floor and my colleagues here who are standing up for this bill in support of this bill. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: i would ask unanimous consent that an intern from senator merkley's office, phillip hay, have the privileges of the floor for the balance of the day. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cardin: mr. president, i would suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from montana. mr. baucus: mr. president, i understand that in effect -- i ask that -- i ask further proceed ftion of the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. baucus: mr. president, i
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understand we're in effect debating russia pntr. robert louis stevenson once said -- quote -- "the mark of a good action is that it appears inevitable in retrospect." when i traveled to russia in february, many doubted that congress would establish permanent normal trade relations known as pntr earlier this year. but in july the finance committee unanimously approved legislation to do just that. and last month the house of representatives passed very similar russia pntr legislation with 365 yes votes. passing the pntr clearly is a good action for the united states. it is also an obvious one. why obvious? jobs. pntr will mean more jobs and opportunities for american farmers, ranchers, businesses, and workers. russia is a fast-growing market.
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the united states to share in that growth we must first pass pntr and if we do, american exports to russia are projected to double in five years. when russia joined the world trade organization in august, it lowered its trade barriers to all w.t.o. members who have pntr with russia. this is no small matter. it includes lower tariffs on aircraft and other exports, larger quotas for beef exports and greater access to russia's telecommunications and banking markets. it all includes strong commitments to protect intellectual property and to follow sound science and agricultural products. and it includes greater transparency on russia laws and binding w.t.o. dispute settlement, all very important. 155 countries already receive these benefits from russia. they receive those benefits
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right now. that is to say, every single member of the world trade organization, all 155 countries, except one, the united states of america, receive those benefits. so right now companies and workers in china, canada and europe can take full advantage of these export opportunities in russia. the world's sixth largest economy. for u.s. companies and workers cannot. we can't let this stand. when russia joined the world trade organization in august, we, americans, gave up nothing. and we will give up nothing when we pass pntr legislation now. we change no u.s. tariffs, we change no u.s. trade laws. this is a one-sided deal in favor of american exporters. in my home state of moants, one out of five jobs is tied to agriculture and ranching is a major driver of our agricultural
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economy. when montana ranchers can sell more beef in russia, they can support more workers in montana. it's that simple and it's a similar story in states all across our country. i know that passing pntr won't solve all our trade problems with russia. but it gives us new tools to tackle those problems, like binding dispute settlement. and thanks to the efforts of senator hatch, senator stabenow, rockefeller, brown, and others, this bill includes strong measures to ensure russia complies with w.t.o. obligations and that the administration enforces them. this legislation also includes the sergei mag it in i ask rule of law accountability act to help fight you human rights abuseness russia. in 1974, senator jackson and congressman charlie vannederynennic teamed together to pass legislation called the
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jackson-vanik bill which this legislation repeals. jackson-vanik addressed one of the biggest human rights abuses in russia at that time, and it succeeded. for the last 0 years, jews have been able to freely emigrate from russia with -- what jackson-vanik was trying to address. jackson-vanik therefore is outdated, jewish emigration from russia is no longer an issue. senator cardin has courageously pushed the magnitsky legislation for years and i commend his efforts. the magnitsky provisions in this legislation address one of the biggest human rights abuseness russia today. the bill would pun you are those responsible for the death of anticorruption lawyer sergei magnitsky by restricting their u.s. visas and freezing their u.s. assets. passing pntr along with these provisions is the right thing to
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do. so in closing, i urge my colleagues to follow the words of robert louis stevenson and take good action. every day we wait u.s. farmers, ranchers, and businesses and workers fall further behind their competitors. we owe it to them to pass this legislation. we owe it to them to make it inevitable. mr. president, before i conclude on another topic, i'd like to say a few words that deserve our attention. on monday, an attack on u.s. troops in afghanistan claimed the lives of sergeant first class darren lindy, and specialist tyler olgard of the north dakota national guard. sergeant lindy was a graduate of sidney high school in montana. he earned many honors through throughout his career including the bronze star, the purple heart, army commendation and army good conduct medals. he was a hero and a family man
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who put service to others above all. many of us honor the sacrifice and services of sergeant lindy and sessionist olgard by looking for ways to circle around our troops and their families. there are no words to express how thankful we are for their ongoing dedication and commitment they show every day. please join my wife melody and i in praying for the service members and families devastated by this attack. mr. president, i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from montana. mr. baucus: mr. president, i ask consent -- the senator from ohio -- i suggest that further
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proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. baucus: mr. president, i wonder if the senator from ohio is ready to speak. yes? yes. how much time does the senator wish to have? mr. president, i ask consent the senator from ohio be allowed to speak for five minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: i thank the senior senator from montana. thank you, mr. president. the bill extending permanent normal trade relations for russia is a positive step for american business and american workers. i've been critical of both democratic and republican administrations' approaches to trade negotiations and enforcement in the past. i think the improved enforcement reporting requirements in this legislation are a step in the right direction toward monitoring and toward enforcement of russia's commitments made as part of its new membership in the world trade organization. for too long both democratic and republican administration have
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negotiated trade agreements that undermined rather than maximize american job creation. too often these agreements have failed to demand that our partners follow the same rules that we do. too often our government has not held our trade partners accountable when they don't meet commitments to which they've already agreed. we've seen this in our trade relationship with china for more than a decade, from currency manipulation to intellectual property theft to failing to offer reciprocal access to its government procurement market to hording rare-earth materials, the people's republic of china has ignored its commitments and obligations. for more than a decade, american workers and manufacturers, especially in a state like mine, have paid the price. thousands have lost jobs. a trade deficit that grew from $83 billion in 2001 to $295 billion in 2011, a deficit in auto parts alone that went from
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about $1 billion a decade ago to about $10 billion today. more recently, though, president obama stood up on china issues, on steel, which led to a new steel mill in youngstown, ohio, more steel jobs in cleveland and lorain, ohio, on tires which translated into more jobs in findlay, ohio. and also on aluminum, which meant more jobs. but our experience with china proves we must more closely monitor our trade partners' commitments before workers are injured by him. russia committed to lower tariffs on manufactured goods to ensure predictability by capping quota levels and to meet international standards on intellectual property rights.
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i'm pleased to see the legislation extending russia pntr includes enforcement measures much stronger than china pntr. several based on legislation i introduced earlier this year. by requiring u.s. trade representative to monitor russia's compliance with its w.t.o. obstacles, to publish an annual report to promote compliance and to establish a formal and public process for business and workers to wa weign on russia's progress in anticipation and before violations for failing to follow the rule of law might take place, we can ensure that our trade relations with russia put our interests first and build confidence that our government can enforce the rules. again, prior to potential misbehavior, as we saw with china, that we will likely not see from russia because of this. like any trade agreement, commitments must be adhered to. ," they are real estate not worth negotiating.
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as an additional level of commitment, i appreciate that senior personnel at the office of the united states trade representative -- at ustr -- who have served our government in russia and are fluent in russian are held accountable for monitoring russia's compliance with its w.t.o. commitments. again, something we didn't do a decade-plus ago with the people's republic of china. japan and europe have already threatened to take russia to the w.t.o. over a number of unfunded trade restrictions, including on autos. the u.s. will need to be vigilant on this as well. the work that chairman baucus does and the house ways and means did and the administration has done and will continue to do gives us the opportunity to be more vij lantsdzst ant and more effective. our workers, farmers, ranchers, and producers should have confidence that if a trade deal is signed, it will actually be enforced. for companies in my state like procter & gamble or alcoa, who
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stand to export more goods to russia because of pntr, enforcement of the rules matters. whilwe can't ignore the russian government's consolatiogovernmef power. we should not turn our backs as russia continues breaking free from its totalitarian past. these are strong -- there are strong economic and democratic forces that are moving forward in russia. these forces for change must be supported and must be allowed to grow. we must not forget how russia -- how far russia has come or how far it has to go. about 40 years ago senator jackson from washington state and congressman vanik from my state of ohio offered an amendment to a trade bill that used the leverage of the u.s. market to deny favorable -- the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. brown could mr. brown: could i e
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more minute? thank you. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: -- to deny favorable trade sto status. it proved that trade can be an instrument for improving human rights in the rule of law. pntr now includes the important magnitsky rule of law. i commend senator cardin for his leadership on this issue, on this important amendment. as the administration looks ahead to trade initiatives like ptt, congress can take steps now, new steps, to ensure the benefits of expanded trade workh workers. several colleagues and i have proposed legislation updating our objectives on labor, on the environment, on import safety and to restore congressional oversight to future trade negotiations, to agreements and especially to their enforcement. it is time we practiced trade so that it achieves real results
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for middle-class families in promoting job creation. mr. president, while russia pntr represents a positive step forward, we must build on this step to ensure that over the long-term promises made are promises kept. i thank the chair. the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. kyl: thank you, mr. president. tomorrow this body will vote to advantages legislation that will great permanent normal trade relations are russia. and in so doing, it will repeal the cold war-era jackson van eyck sanctions that denied most favored nation status to china. as part of this comprehensive package, the senate will also pass the so-called magnitsky bill. this piece of legislation was inspired by a young russian attorney, sergei magnitsky, who died in police custody in 2009, after he was jailed on trumped-up charges for exposing a vast web of corruption and tax fraud by some of russia's most senior officials.
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sergei's story extensively reported and documented by human rights activists, business leaders, journalists and others, helped stir a bipartisan group of senators led by our colleague ben cardin to draft legislation to hold accountable officials from all over the world who disregard basic human rights and fail to uphold the rule of law, including those responsible for the murder of sergei magnitsky. unfortunately, the legislation before us is deficient. while i do not intend to make perfection the enemy of the good, this bill falls short of the long-standing objective of this embody to demonstrate a success staininged commitment to the long tradition of u.s. leadership in the fight against corruption and human rights abuses around the world. regrettably, the house-passed bill deals only with russian officials. while sergei magnitsky's story could have been lost -- it was
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kept alive by impassioned and supportive people in russia. but from minsk to carari, there are many despo who lack the ress to seek justice whether through documentary films or newspaper stories. that's why the senate bill went beyond the particular case of sergei magnitsky, much like jackson-vanik forced war saw and moscow, i believe a global approach would help to deter future abuses throughout the world. and so i'm puzzled and frankly disappointed that our house colleagues did not recognize that our government needs tools that will allow it to stand up for these individuals, regardless of where they are in the world. because some have elevated the subject of commerce above human rights, there is a view that it's more important to pass pntr
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than a global magnitsky bill. thus, we should settle for a russia-only bill. while the jackson-vanik sanctions that we are about to repeal have obviously outlived their usefulness, there is an urgent need for additional tools to protect the invisible around the world. i hope that our collective failure here to give voice to their struggles, except in russia, will not discourage these brave men and women, whether in beijing or tehran or elsewhere from their continued efforts to root out corruption or expose rule of law abuses. for now at least we address the problem in russia. while i will not be here next year, i hope my colleagues in both the house and senate will seek to uphold u.s. values and to do justice to sergei magnitsky and his legacy by passing a global bill sometime in the future.
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the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: mr. president, first let me thank senator kyl for his leadership on this issue. he knows that i share his views on the global aspect of the legislation. i just really want to thank him for his extraordinary leadership, as we have been working this issue. we've worked it hard, tried to get as far as we possibly could. he will be missed in the next congress. we will take up this cause again, but i just really wanted to thank you, senator kyl, for your commitment on this issue and finding a way that we could advance this bill to the floor. and i do look forward to the day that we will make this bill global.
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a senator: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent -- there's -- a quorum is not being called, is that true? the presiding officer: we are in a corum call. mr. reid: i ask that it be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: mr. president, at 5:00 p.m. today, the senate will proceed to calendar number 676. for the information all senators, we expect a roll call vote on the nomination of michael shea at about 5:30 we'll go into executive session at 5:00 and move toward that. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that no amendments be in order to h.r. 6156. following the reporting of the bill, there be up to five hours of debate, equally divided between the two leaders or their
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designees. during today's session. then on tomorrow, thursday, december 6, th at a time to be determined by the majority leader after visiting with and consulting with the republican leader, there be up to ten minutes of debate equally dividedly divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees and among the use or yielding back of time, the senate proceed to vote on passage of that bill. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. mcconnell: reserving the right to object -- the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: last week secretary geithner brought up for the president an offer that was so unserious, it makes me wonder what the point of it was. in light of that offer, i'd like to see if our democratic friends are willing to support it. it includes $a $2 trillion tax increase over ten years, which would be the biggest real-dollar tax increase in u.s. history. it increases taxes on nearly one million small businesses, and it increases the taxes paid by family farmers and small businesses at death in the middle of a jobs crisis.
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and most outrageous of all, it gives the president of the united states unilateral power -- unilateral power -- to raise the limit on the federal credit card, the so-called debt ceiling, whenever he wants for as much as he wants. i don't think that we should have to speculate how democrats might feel about this. i think we should give them a chance to demonstrate for themselves how serious the president's plan was and how serious they are. so i'd like to ask consent to offer an amendment to the russia trade bill -- this is the -- secretary geithner's proposal right here -- an amendment to the russia trade bill that gives our friends on the other side a chance to vote on this proposal that secretary geithner brought up last thursday. give the president's proposal to solve the fiscal cliff, as delivered by secretary geithner and outlined in the president's
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budget, an opportunity to be voted upon. i should note that i'd be happy to have this vote right here or as an amendment to the next bill or as a stand-alone. it will not slow down what i hope is swift passage of pntr for russia. if this proposal was made in good faith, our friends on other side i'm sure would be happy to vote for it. so, mr. president, let me just say that i expect my good friend, the majority leader, to decline this chance to support the president and this laughable proposal. because they know it couldn't even pass if it were sent to their majority. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i reserve the right to object. i just a minute ago moved to the russia trade bill. the purpose of moving to this bill is to protect american jobs. if we don't do this legislation, we'll lose american jobs for sure and put american companies
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in even worse shape than they are with chinese and european companies. so the question is really this: are we going to get serious here and legislate or is this more of the obstruction we felt so much during this last congress? the answer to that is really obvious. the answer is yes. or are we going to continue the sort of political stunts that the republican leader is trying to pull today, now? on the substance, the senate has passed a bill that goes a long way to address the fiscal cliff. that's already passed here. last july the senate passed a bill to continue tax cuts for 98% of all americans and 90% of all american small businesses. if the republican leader were serious about preventing us from going over the fiscal cliff, he would urge his colleague, the speaker, tpo get the house to -- to get the house to take up the senate-passed bill now.
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there are republicans who have already said that's the right thing to do, conservatives, moderates, we had one senator today who said she thinks that should happen. in the meantime -- that was a republican senator, by the way. the republican leader is, mr. president, just as stunned. the election is over. it's time to get down to business. mr. president, this paper he has, secretary geithner didn't bring that stack of stuff to me. it was a private meeting, trying to work something out with this very troublesome issue fating -- facing this country: the deficit, the debt. this private meeting turned out to be a publicity stunt for republicans talking about what he had said in private. so, mr. president, i object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. mcconnell: mr. president,
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on the underlying -- the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: i would just add one comment about the consent i just offered. i think it would not be inaccurate to assert that the proposal the secretary of treasury brought up last thursday would not have passed the house when nancy pelosi was speaker. this was an unserious proposal. and i can understand why my good friend, the majority leader, would rather not vote on it, because i can't imagine that it would get many, if any, votes in the senate here as well. having made that point, with regard to pntr for russia, when the two parties first sat down to discuss the so-called fiscal cliff, it was widely assumed among republicans that president obama and democrats actually wanted to avoid it. that was the premise that any possible agreement had shown. that was the common goal, or so we thought. over the past couple of weeks it's become increasingly clear to many of us that we were
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simply wrong about that. incredibly, many top democrats, including the president, seemed perfectly happy -- perfectly happy -- to go off the cliff. that's why the president has been more interested in campaign rallies than actually negotiating a deal. and it explains why the president is now stubbornly insisting on raising tax rates when he himself said just last year that you could raise more revenue from capping deductions and closing loopholes. this isn't about the deficit for them or balance. it's about an ideological campaign that most americans thought would have ended on november 6, and that's also why the president sent secretary geithner up here last week with a proposal so completely ridiculous it wouldn't have passed the house, as i indicated earlier, if nancy pelosi were still speaker. it was more of a provocation than a proposal, to be perfectly frank about it. it was a message that the
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president doesn't want to deal at all. to date not a single democrat has come forward to support the geithner proposal, and anybody who actually looks at the details would certainly understand why. as i just indicated, it includes a $2 trillion tax increase over ten years, the biggest real-dollar tax increase in u.s. history. it increases taxes on nearly one million small businesses in the middle of a jobs crisis. according to ernst & young, this type of rate hike would cause more than 700,000 americans to lose their jobs. it raises taxes on investment income, harming economic growth even more. it includes tens of billions of dollars in more washington spending in a deal supposedly to cut the deficit. and most outrageous of all, it gives the president of the united states unilateral power to raise the limit on the federal credit card, the
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so-called debt ceiling, whenever he wants or as much as he wants. and while i'm flattered the administration has taken to calling this the -- quote -- "mcconnell provision" they seemed to have forgotten how this worked in the budget control act. we gave the president the authority then to request a debt ceiling increase, but that was only after the white house agreed to $2 trillion in cuts to washington spending and agreed to be bound by the timing and amount set by congress. this time the request is for the president to have the ability to raise the debt ceiling whenever he wants for as much as he wants with no fiscal responsibility or spending cuts attached. this is an idea opposed by democrats and republicans alike. it's a power grab that has no support here. and so it's not only completely dishonest, it's juvenile to compare it to last year's debt ceiling agreement. it would also be incredibly
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irresponsible since history shows that the only major deficit-cutting deals we ever do around here -- ever -- comes after debates over the debt ceiling. it may be a good idea if you don't care about the debt, but it's a nonstarter for those of us who do. it also represents a dangerous attempt by the president to grab more power over spending, power that congress must not and will not cede. beyond these details not only will the president's plan raise taxes on certain individuals, it will also cap their ability to deduct donations they make to charities, the interest they make on mortgages, the contributions they make to retirement accounts and the value of employer-based health insurance. don't get me wrong, you heard me say if democrats insist on getting more money to washington, capping these deductions is a better way to raise revenue. but capping deduction and raising tax is a recipe for economic disaster. the president's proposal would
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also subject tens of thousands of small businesses and family farms to a massive tax hike to be paid by the family upon the death of the owners. it would impose a crushing tax increase on industries that employ millions of americans, including manufacturers in my state, businesses that operate abroad, the insurance industry, and would raise the price at the pump by targeting the oil and gas industry for special tax treatment. it's so ridiculous, as i've said repeatedly, it wouldn't have passed the house under speaker pelosi. that's why even the most liberal members of congress, the president's most ardent supporters, haven't come forward to support it. so for the white house to demand a response shows they're just playing games at this point. and if you don't believe me, ask yourself how many democrats would vote for this bill. not many. but i didn't think we should have to speculate.
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i still think we should give democrats a chance to demonstrate for themselves just how serious the president's plan was and how serious they are. that's why i just asked consent to offer an amendment to the russia trade bill that gave them that opportunity. as i noted, i would be happy to have this vote here or as an amendment to the next bill or as a stand-alone. it will not slow down what i hope is swift passage for pntr for russia. if the president's proposal is made in good faith, our friends should be eager to vote for it. so i'm surprised the majority leader just declined the chance for them to support it with their votes. so i guess we're left to conclude that it couldn't even pass by a fair majority of votes and that they would rather take the country off the cliff than actually work out a good-faith agreement that reflects tough choices on both sides.
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to be fair to the secretary and to the president, we didn't just put together a bill that included his $2 trillion tax increase. we also added the almost $400 billion in new tax stimulus measures he wanted as well. this bill contains a continuation of the payroll tax holiday, a 10% credit on new wages that will go to businesses large and small, tanned included a fix -- and it included a fix to one of the many flawed provisions of obamacare and expansion of a tax credit for businesses no one uses. this proposal reflected exactly what was in the president's budget and his various submissions to congress. i for one was eager to see this vote, to see if senate democrats were ready to support it. i think folks should know who actually wants to raise taxes on
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family farmers and manufacturers and who thinks we can solve our fiscal problems without doing anything serious to our long-term liabilities. our democratic friend are so focused on the politics of this debate, they seem to forget there's a cost. they're feeling so good about the election, they've forgotten they've got a duty to govern. a lot of people are going to suffer -- a lot -- if we go off this cliff. that's why we assumed democrats would have preferred to avoid it. we thought this was the perfect opportunity to do something. apparently we were wrong. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: is there objection to the original request? without objection, so ordered. mr. reid: mr. president, there is no geithner proposal he. this is all made up.
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mr. president, i remember dorothy in the wizard of oz. i think she's from kansas, and she wound up in oz. we're here in washington, d.c., and we're suddenly in oz, in a real strange place. mr. president, the republican leader is an expert at ways to kill legislation, and people who are kaufpg -- watching can see he's trying to torpedo the fiscal cliff negotiations which are ongoing. republican senators have spoken to people in the white house today. this is no serious way to negotiate out here on the senate floor. at the end, the republican leader is complaining because president obama wants the rich to pay their fair share. and as usual, republicans are defending the rich, holding tax cuts for middle class hostage. at the first of the year, unless we work something out, the taxes
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will go up for people making less than $250,000 a year, an average of $2,200 each -- not per family -- each person. the senate has already passed the centerpiece of president obama's offer. and his offer has always been the same. we are not going to go through the same thing we've gone through here for years where we lay out different ways to cut spending, and there's never any revenue. the president has made it very, very clear. we have already passed the president's proposal. that is to make sure that people making less than $250,000 a year are not burdened with $2,200 each after the first of the year. that passed in july. the house can take that up. there's already been -- every democrat in the house has agreed they will vote for that. we need only 25 or 26
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republicans in the house to make life something that's stable for people making less than $250,000 a year. the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. mccain: mr. president, could i ask my friend from maryland if he has spoken yet on the magnitsky portion of this bill? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: we have not yet gotten to the bill. i believe that we're prepared now to go to h.r. 6156. i know that the senator from connecticut would like to speak for five minutes. and i was hoping that we could get some time where we could go back and forth and talk about the magnitsky aspects of that legislation now. am i correct, mr. president, the bill has not yet been -- going to be reported now? perhaps we could enter into a consent as to the next 30 or 40 minutes. the presiding officer: morning business is closed. under the previous order the senate will proceed to consideration of h.r. 6156, which the clerk will report.
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the clerk: calendar number -- mr. mccain: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent further reading be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mccain: mr. president, i also note note the presence of our friend, senator lieberman on the floor, who also has had a major role in this legislation. and i would hope that perhaps he could be -- i ask unanimous consent he be included in the colloquy. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mccain: again, could i ask my friend, senator cardin, i have a statement that i wanted to make before the colloquy, and i know you had a statement, and since it is your legislation, i would be glad to wait with my remarks until after you complete yours. and how much time, could i ask my colleague? mr. cardin: i think my initial comments will be under ten minutes, about ten minutes. mr. mccain: and i would have ten minutes' worth. if that is agreeable to my friend from connecticut who
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obviously is jobless and homeless. mr. cardin: thank you, mr. president. mr. mccain: i ask unanimous consent that the senator from maryland make his remarks followed by mine and the senator from connecticut. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. cardin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: first, let me thank senator mccain for not just working this out but for his leadership on this issue. he has really provided, i think, the moral leadership that we need on dealing with human rights issues. he is the cosponsor of the sergei magnitsky accountability act, and i thank him for that. today we close a chapter in the u.s. history on the advancing of human rights with the repeal, basically, of jackson-vanik. it's served its purpose, and today we open a new chapter in u.s. leadership for human rights with the sergei magnitsky rule of law accountability act. as you've heard, this involves a lawyer named sergei magnitsky
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who had u.s. interests that he was representing in russia. he discovered the largest tax fraud in russia's history. he did what a lawyer should do. he brought it to the attention of the authorities. as a result of his bringing this corruption in local government to the authorities, he was arrested. he was tortured because they wanted him to recant what he had said. they wanted him to basically not tell the truth. he refused to do that. he needed medical attention. he was denied medical attention. on november 6, 2009, he lost his life in a russian prison. being denied the opportunity to get needed health care. 37 years old, a wife and two children. those who were responsible for his death and those who were responsible for the cover-up have never been brought to justice. they have gone unpunished. in some cases, they have even
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been promoted. the facts are well known, these are not hidden facts. the international community knows the people that were involved, knows about the cover-up and knows that they have not been held accountable. and this has gained international attention. that's why i filed legislation aimed at the individuals responsible for the magnitsky tragedy. what it said quite clearly is that those involved would be held accountable by being denied certain international rights. it also involved those that were involved with judicial killings, torture or violations of internationally recognized human rights. the legislation said look, we're not going to let you have the fruits of your corruption. we're going to deny you the opportunity to hold your illegal gains in our banking system, which is where they prefer. they don't want to hold rubles,
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they want to hold dollars. and that we will not let you have a visa, a privilege to visit our country, to visit your property in our country or your family in this country. it targets the individual who committed the gross human rights violation and it recognizes the failure of the host country to deal with those violations. i want to thank all those who have been involved in the development of this legislation. senator mccain has been one of the great leaders on these human rights issues. this is not a partisan division. we have strong bipartisan support. i have already acknowledged senator kyl. he recently spoke. i know senator wicker took the floor a little earlier. i thank him, the ranking member on the helsinki commission. i want to thank senator shaheen, the chair of the european subcommittee on the environment of the senate foreign relations committee for her work, senator bob menendez on the foreign relations committee. all those were very instrumental
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in dealing with this. senator durbin who has been a real champion on human rights. i want to acknowledge kyle parker, a staff person from the helsinki commission who was very instrumental in the development of this legislation, and i want to also acknowledge senator lieberman's work. i know he will be speaking in a few minutes. it was senator lieberman and senator mccain and myself that first suggested that we should pass the magnitsky bill, it's the right thing to do, but we certainly shouldn't let pntr go without attaching the magnitsky bill. i want to thank senator lieberman and thank senator mccain for raising that connection. it was the right thing to do. first of all, it allowed us to get this human rights tool enacted. secondly, i think it gave us the best chance to get the pntr bill done in the right form. so i want to thank both of them for their leadership on that. in 1974, we passed the jackson vanik law.
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it dealt with the failure of the soviet union to allow for the immigration of its citizens, affecting mainly soviet jews. it was controversial in its time. madam president, people said why are we connecting human rights to trade? why is the united states doing that? after all, trade is so important. well, we did it and it made a huge difference, and we were able to get soviet jews out of the soviet union. we spoke for western values in our trade legislation. we protected the rights of individuals that refused this. when i first came to congress 26 years ago, i joined the congressional caucus for soviet jewry. i wore the wristbands. 25 years ago, i marched in washington, a march for soviet jews. we stood up for basic rights, and we changed the landscape on this issue. i had a chance to be with natan
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sharansky and celebrate what he meant to freedom around the world. we initiated that with jackson-vanik. it's a proud chapter in american history. today we end that chapter because jackson-vanik is no longer relevant to the human rights challenges of our time. but with the passage of the sergei magnitsky accountability act, we meet the challenges of our time. we meet those individuals who are committing gross human rights violation. this act is a global standard for the advancement of human rights. unfortunately, the magnitsky tragedy is not unique within russia. we know other circumstances within the country. we saw the results of last year's elections and the attitude of government towards journalists. we need the protection of the magnitsky standards for human rights violations within russia, but madam president, it doesn't end with russia. it doesn't end with russia.
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human rights violations are global. we should have these tools available globally. we need to prevent russia and other countries from regressing on their commitments to human rights. now, i must tell you when you take a look at the legislation that came out of our two committees, s. 1039 coming out of the senate foreign relations committee and coming out of the senate finance committee -- i serve on both of those committees -- it says very clearly that the law would apply to those responsible for extra judicial killings, torture or other gross violations of internationally recognized human rights committed against individuals to object taken, exercise, defend or promote internationally recognized human rights and freedoms, such as the freedom of religion, expression, association and assembly and the rights to a fair trial and democratic elections anywhere in the world. that was the legislation that we
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reported in two of our committees. i might tell you it was overwhelming support that we should make it global. senator kyl talked about that, and others i'm sure will do also. when you look at h.r. 6156, you will see the exact language that we have in our magnitsky bill, with one exception -- anywhere in the world is changed to russia. i am disappointed by that. i join with senator kyl in that disappointment. i think it would have been much better if we incorporated the international standards, the global provisions. i think it's very important congress pass this bill. i strongly support it. i support the effort of getting this to the president as quickly as possible. but, madam president, it's a clear message here. this bill is our standard. we will be holding countries to this standard. we will look for other opportunities to attach these provisions to other trade bills.
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we will look for other opportunities to reinstitute the global application of the magnitsky standards. it's the right thing. the world is on notice. other countries are following our leadership. we expect other countries will be acting with similar standards. and i might point out, as i did over two years ago, there is existing authority within the state department to deny visas, to deny visas to human rights violators. i think we should make that very clear and we should enact a law that makes it clear. you have to pass the magnitsky law as it relates to russia, but there is authority and we expect that the administration will follow that authority. so i am hopeful that people understand that although the language of the law is not as broad as we would like it to be, many of us consider this to be the international standard, and we will be asking to hold other countries accountable for
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violators of human rights that that country does not deal with in denying them the right to visit our country or to use our banking system. one last point, madam president. there are some who say well, aren't we interfering with the internal affairs of a sovereign country? nothing could be further from the truth. we have a right, i would say a responsibility, to challenge internationally recognized human rights violations in other countries. it's well established, but if russia and the united states are members of the organization for security and cooperation in europe. i had the honor of the senate chair of the hell singing commission, our implementing arm. that organization gives us the right to raise human rights problems in other countries. we have used that, madam president, to advance efforts to stop human trafficking, to deal with antisemitism, to deal with
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corruption issues in other countries. we have had that right, we have that responsibility, and our actions today are for the russian people and for its government. i have heard from so many human rights activists in russia, from russian business leaders and ordinary citizens who tell me russia can do better, and they urge us to move forward with the magnitsky accountability act. the united states by the passage of this bill will be on the right side of history. it will deepen our relationship with the russian people. yes, madam president, we're ending a chapter with repeal of jackson vanik, but we're starting a new chapter on human rights, one which we can be proud of where america, once again, is establishing a basic principle that we will not tolerate those who violate internationally recognized human rights standards. we will not let them go without
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being held accountable, and we certainly will not let them have the privileges of our country if they violate internationally recognized human rights standards. with that, madam president, i would yield the floor. mr. mccain: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona is recognized. mr. mccain: it's my pleasure to rise today to speak in favor of h.r. 6156, the russia and moldova jackson-vanik repeal and the sergei magnitsky rule of law accountability act. this day has been a long time in coming. in fact, it's now come thanks to the great work of many of my colleagues, and i want to take just a minute to recognize a few of them personally. first of all, is the senator from maryland. it's not an exaggeration to say that -- at least to say that were it not for senator cardin's leadership on behalf of human rights in russia and his tireless dedication to memorializing the courageous
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dissent of one remarkable man, sergei magnitsky, we would not be here today. senator cardin is the original author of the sergei magnitsky rule of law accountability act. he passionately educated his colleagues about the need for this legislation, which is why it eventually won 25 bipartisan cosponsors in the senate. the senator from maryland has my deepest respect and gratitude for his efforts on behalf of human rights in russia. he has established himself as a leading voice in our country on these issues. i have been honored to be his partner in this endeavor from the very beginning as a lead cosponsor of the act. and when this legislation is passed, as i am confident it will, senator cardin deserves great credit in the world for this historic achievement. i want to recognize the efforts of the senator from montana. the senator from montana joined
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in this effort some time ago and very importantly he agreed, and in a letter to some of us, the senator from montana pledged to marry the two pieces of legislation together and to do everything in his power to see that the senate could act on them together. he's been true to his word at every step of the way and i'm pleased to stand here today with him on behalf of the repeal of jackson-vanik for russia and moldova as well as the magnitsky act. i also want to thank my friend, joe lieberman, whose report on human rights is unmatched by anyone in this body, a man who continues to speak out for the rights of all human beings everywhere in the world. finally, the person i want to acknowledge above all is sergei magnitsky, whose remarkable life and tragic death is the reason that brings us here today. sergei magnitsky was a tax
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attorney working for an international company, cerm itage capital it had invested in russia. he didn't spend his life as a human rights activist or an outspoke critic of the russian government. he was an ordinary man but he became an extraordinary champion of justice, fairness, and the rule of law in a russia where those principles have lost nearly all meaning. what mr. magnitsky uncovered was that a collection of russian government officials and criminals associated with them colluded to defraud the russian state of $230 million. the russian government in turn blamed the crime on hermitage cap and threw mr. magnitsky in prison in 2008. mr. magnitsky was detained for 11 months without trial, russian officials pressured him to deny what he uncovered, to lie and recant, but he refused.
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he was sickened by what his government had done and he refused to surrender principle to brute power. as a result, mr. magnitsky was transferred to increasingly more severe and more horrific prison conditions. he was forced to eat unclean food and drink unsanitary water. he was denied basic medical care, as his health worthened, in fact, he was placed in increasingly worse conditions until on november 16, 2009, having served 358 days in prison, sergei magnitsky died. he was 37 years old. what is even more tragic is that the case of mr. magnitsky is only one of the most extreme examples of the broad and dramatic deterioration of rule of law in russia. and its replacement with arbitrary and nearly unchecked
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rule state power which is increasingly concentrated in the hands of one man, president vladimir putin. what is emerging in russia today can only be described as a culture of impunity, a sense amongst those who control the levers of power that russia is theirs for the taking and the only question left to debate is how government officials will divide up the wealth, the power, and the spoils. this culture of impiewntd begins -- impunity begins first and foremost with president putin. he sets the tone in the country. and right now with his return to the presidency, and with many of the actions that the russian government has taken recently, the signal is being sent across the country, especially to every tyrant and aspiring autocrat in the russian state that putin is doing what he
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wishes, he is using the instruments of the state to crush his critics, he's getting away with it, and you can, too. this culture of impunity in russia has been growing worse and worse over many years. it's been deepened by the increased surveillance and harassment of members of opposition and civil society groups, by the continued violent attacks on brave journalists who dare to publish the truth about official corruption and other state crimes in russia today, and, of course, by the continued detention of numerous political prisoners, not least mchale korokovsky and his associate, mr. leb bed of to remain locked away but not forgotten. i continue to fear for the health and safety of both men and i pray for them. the culture of impunity in russia can be seen in russia's
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recent elections. the parliamentary election last december and the presidential election in march, which were criticized for their flaws and irregularities by impartial objective international organizations. it can be seen in the recent n.g.o. law passed by the russian legislature which requires any civil society group in russia that receives international funding to register as a -- quote -- "foreign agent." the fast majority of these civil society groups have nothing to do with politics. clearly the intent of this will you law is nothing less than to demonize and marginalize and signa ma ties as treessonnous -- treasonous whatever civil society organizations that still remain in russia. the culture of impunity in russia can also be seen in the government's new and growing interpretation of its law against extremism. a law that may once have been designed to address real concerns with terrorism and
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violent extremism is now being broadened to put pressure on civil society groups and religious minority groups even including the jehovah's witnesses. a russian court went so far as to classify as an extremist organization the punk rock band of russian girls that staged a protest performance this year in moscow's christ the savior cathedral. any media outlet in russia that would dare to brost broadcast this group's material could now be subject to having their outfit closed down by the russian state. this culture of impunity was extended even further last month in russia's new law against treason. that term now has been defined so broadly that it allows the state to ban web sites and impose fines and likely worse penalties against russians who participate in unregistered
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demonstrations, who fail to register as foreign agents where now required under russian law, and even to those who are suspected of giving advice to foreigners. many russians rightly believe this new trees op law is so -- treason law is so expansive the government can use it to stifle the legitimate rights and freedoms of anyone they deem to be an enemy of the state. this culture of impunity also extends to the recent decision by the russian government to terminate the presence in all programming of usaid in russia. whatever the stated reason for this decision, there should be no doubt why it was done. to try to further isolate and marginalize and emasculate civil society groups in russia by denying them an ability to work in partnership with the united
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states. as many of these groups have freely done and wish to continue doing. ultimately, this culture of impunity in russia is why sergei magnitsky is dead. that's why even now no one has yet been held accountable for his murder. and i suspect no one ever will. what's worse, the russian government has done the opposite. it has put sergei magnitsky, a dead man, on trial. a dead man on trial. perhaps in an effort to prove that he got what he deserved. they even required mr. magnitsky's mother and family to appear at the trial, which sinks this case into a whole new low. this culture of impunity is why videos are surfacing even now that document the brutal
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conditions of russia's prison system and the systemic abuse and torture to which detainees are subjected at the hands of mid-level tyrants who want to run their small part of the russian state just as their president does. that's why we need to pass and i'm confident will pass the magnitsky act. so sense and civil societies soit groups do not have a path to justice in russia, then the international community has a responsibility to show these people that there can be accountability and still be consequences for which they are suffering. the magnitsky act does that, and i want to be clear. what is so important about this legislation is that its provisions would not simply apply to those russian officials responsible for the torture and murder of sergei magnitsky. it would also apply to other persons in russia who commit
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human rights abuses. in short, this is not just about historical accountability. it is also about preventing future magnitsky cases, it's about imposing consequences on all human rights vanderbiltors in russia. the allegation that this legislation infringes on russian sovereignty is nonsense. the magnitsky act does not require the russian government or russian citizens to do anything they do not wish to do. it cannot force human rights abusers in russia to stop what they are doing. but if they continue what this legislation does is to tell those individuals that they cannot bank their money in the united states, they are not welcome in this country, and they cannot visit this country and they will have no access to the u.s. financial system. i know we've had a debate about whether to make this bill globally applicable, a tool that could be used to apply these same kinds of penalties to human rights abusers anywhere in the world. this is a worthy goal and i
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believe swee wee should have such a debate in the next congress. it's important now, however, that the magnitsky act remain focused scairl and exclusively on russia. that's what russian democrats and civil society groups tell me they want right now. they want congress to send their government a message on human rights and by keeping the magnitsky act focused for now on russia we can do just that. furthermore, the administration can use its own executive authority at this time to apply similar kinds of pressures contained in the magnitsky act to human rights abusers in other countries. i for one will be watching closely to see if they do. for in many other cases are crying out for greater u.s. leadership on behalf of human rights. and if the administration does not take the initiative to apply the leverage at our disposal to these other cases beyond russia, that is the surest way to ensure that the congress will act to globalize the enact next
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year. there are still many people who look at the magnitsky act as anti--russia. i disagree. i believe it's pro-russia. believe it's pro-russia because this legislation is about the rule of law, and human rights, and accountability which are values that russians hold dear. i believe it's pro-russia because it does not make all russians pay for the crimes of a small handful of corrupt officials, and in this way the magnitsky act is an improvement on jackson-vanik and an ideal replacement for it. i believe the magnitsky act is pro-russia in the same way that permanent normal trade relations is also pro-russia because both measures are ultimately about strengthening ordinary russians who long for greater opportunity, greater freedom, and greater protections for their rights under the law.
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i'm not under any illusion that the passage of either the magnitsky act or pntr for russia will ensure the success of rule of law in russia. not at all. but while both measures are very different and present very different kinds of benefits to the russian people, one, a material benefit, the other a moral benefit, both these measures i firmly believe are nonetheless beneficial to russia. both create high standards to which we and others can hold the russian government both on the trade pront front and on matters of human rights. both create levers for international accountability where few currently remain in russia. in other words, the magnitsky act of pntr for russia can serve as tools for russia that help empower ordinary russians who do not want their lives or livelihoods to be determined solely by the predatory elites in the russian state. ultimately passing this
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legislation will place the united states squarely on the side of the russian people and the right side of russian history. which appears to be approaching a crossroads. i would remind my colleagues that today is the anniversary of the massive protests that rocket russia one year ago. as i've said before, i do not believe that the demand for freedom and dignity have so profoundly shaken the arab world are unique to that part of the world. i think the effect of these upheavals will be global because the values and aspirations at their heart are universal. i think this makes mr. putin and his cronies very nervous. and it should. the desire for peaceful change and democratic and legal reform can be delayed for a time, they can be delayed, but they cannot be denied. this legislation is a vote in favor of a brighter, better
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future for the russian people, a future that they can determine freely and independently for themselves. finally, i'd be remiss if i didn't conclude with a word on moldova because this legislation would take the long overdue step of repealing jackson-vanik from moldova. it should have been long ago. i've been an action of this action for many years and obviously the fact that it is tied to this bill i think is important. i'm proud the senate is on the way to clearing the way for normal trade relations between the united states and moldova. that country has taken great strides towards democratic and economic reform and i believe this is a vote of confidence in moldova's economic and reform and in support of its democratic fu -- future. could i say to my three colleagues on the floor here. there are times when we do a lot of things for the people we
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represent and a lot of things for the country. i think that what we are doing here, which will be rapidly approved -- it's already been aver proved by the house and will be made into law -- is something that we are doing for people in russia who need our help now, need our voice, who need our commitment. the great and wonderful ideas and promise and prospect after the fall of the soviet union that was the case of russia, many of those hopes have been dashed. maybe we should take responsibility for not playing a more constructive role in the 1990's when russia was going through a critical phase. but i promise you that today, not just sergei magnitsky's widow but all people throughout russia will be encouraged by this message because, as they were years ago, the legislation that we are now repealing, the jackson-vanik act was a call to
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the people in russia who were being held under terrible conditions that they would not be able to freely -- now be able to freely immigrate to a land with a better future. i believe that today this legislation is one of the most important things that in years to come we can be proud we were a small part of. mr. cardin: i just wanted to compliment you on the moral clarity of your statement. you're absolutely right. the moral clarity here is clear. those that can make gross violations -- as you pointed out, this legislation applies beyond the magnitsky tragedy. it applies to russia. and it is a standard that we intend to to use on other legislation. i hope we will make this statutorily global. but we're going to have other
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opportunities to make it clear that those who violate human rights, peter jenningsly recognized, that the clarity here is clear in that there will be repercussions on the rights of our own country. you're right, we can't determine how russia will treat its violators of their laws. they're going to have to handle that. but we have moral certainty that we are not going to assist those violators. we're abouting to deny their opportunities to come to america and use our banking system. i thank you very much for -- mr. mccain: could i just make a quick respoons to my friend from maryland. that is, we talk add lot about the globalization. don't think that dictators and brutal rulers and ole gar kiss all over the -- oligarchies all over the world aren't paying attention to this legislation. and our me our message is them p it up; you're next. the presiding officer: the senator from montana is
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recognized. mr. baucus: madam president, thank you very much. i -- while the senator -- before the senator leaves the floor, i want to thank him very much for his leadership. he's stalwart leader in protecting human rights all over the world, but in this case russia. i think he's right in suggesting that it is a good follow-on to protect human rights certain r--certainly in this case, russ. madam president, i ask unanimous consent that the time be controlled on the democratic side the following senators be given time: senator levin, 15 minutes, senator cardin, 50, and i understand that he's already use add person amount of time. so the total will be 50. senator lieberman ten minutes. all time used for debate on the bill earlier today during morning business be counted toward the five hours allocated under the unanimous consent agreement. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered.
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mr. baucus: mr. president, i yield ten minutes to the senator from connecticut. the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. lieberman: i thank the chair. thank you, madam president. i thank my friend, the chairman of the finance committee. i thank hum for his leadership in bringing this important legislation out and for yielding me ten minutes. the and while i'm expressing -- and while i'm expressing gratitude, may i express gratitude to the senator from maryland for really -- talk about moral clarity, which is a term he just used about our friend from arizona, he's shown real moral clarity on this issue and many others. i thank him for it. as i begin my final month in the u.s. national, i senate, it givt confidence when i know that people like him and senator mccain are going to be here to continue to hold america to the standard that our founding documents hold us to, which is to be a beacon of human rights and a protector of those who fight for human rights around the world. so my thanks and compliments to
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senator cardin. i rise to join those who are supporting this bill, which is really two measures brought together in mutually productive partnership. the case for granting pntr to russia really is clear and straightforward. russia became a mull full member of the -- became a full member of the world trade organization over three months ago and in doing so was bound to pledge to cut tariffs for manufactured imports and open its service sector to foreign competition. in order for american companies to realize these benefits, we must grant permanent normal trade relations, pntr, to russia. for this reason, the only country that will be disadvantaged if we fail to pass this bill will be our own. and that particularly means our own businesses, and that of course is why american business
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generally and leading business advocacy groups like the chairman of commerce in particular have -- like the chamber of commerce in particular have supported this legislation so strongly. it's also why the governors of 14 of our states, including connecticut, and six former u.s. trade representatives have urged the senate to follow the house in swiftly passing this bill. i also note that this legislation will grant permanent normal trade relations to the country of moldova, a country that has demonstrated tremendous democratic progress over the past two decades. deepening our economic ties with moldova is good for american business and will help keep moldova on the path of democracy as well as development. so pntr for russia and moldova
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are necessary and good for the u.s. for me -- and i hope many others -- eloquently expressed by senator cardin, senator mckaren the case for this bill -- senator mccain, the case for this bill is really sealed because of its incorporation of separate legislation, the magnitsky rule of law and accountability act, which i'm privileged to be a cosponsor of. i must say that as i look back over my 24 years in the senate, which have been doing a lot lately, there are not too many pieces of legislation that i've been prouder to be associated with than the magnitsky act. as many of you know, this legislation is named for a 37-year-old russian tax lawyer named sergei magnitsky whose tragic murder three years ago is among the most horrible examples
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of corruption, the corruption that continues to afflict russia. and also the thuggishness. mr. magnitsky is rightfully the namesake of this legislation. it will impose a visa ban, an asset freeze not only against those officials who we have good reason to believe are responsible for his murder but also against russian officials responsible for any and all human rights abuses that are too regularly taking place in that country. i will tell you, as senator mccain did, senator cardin, that i've had the privilege of meeting with russian dissidents, political activists, and human rights leaders over the years, and what they have told me and my colleagues over and over again and again is that there is one thing above all others that we can do here in the united states to help support the cause of human rights and the rule of
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law in russia, and that is to pass the magnitsky act. so today i join my colleagues who support this legislation in saying to those in russia who are striving courageously to secure their fundamental freedoms, the same rights to life, liberty, and the purr suit of happiness that our founders said in our declaration were the endowment of our creator to every human being, we say to the fighters for freedom in russia, we have not and will not forget you. and your cause. we know and will remember your names. we will stand in solidarity with you and in support of you until you achieve your goal. which is a goal that we share, and it is the spread of democracy. a democrat russia that respects ththe rule of law, protects humn
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rights, and is free of corruption. i just want to echo what my friends have said a moment ago. i was thinking about it. i'm not sure anybody yet has mentioned the name of natan sharansky, a famous russian dissident of an earlier name, refusenik placed in a russian gulag, served so much time in solitaire confinement. i've had the honor to get to know him. but if you read his books, there's a very moving series of sections where he talks about the fact that when jackson-vanik passed and they learned about it and they would communicate with each other in the most primitive ways when news came in, what an inspiration it was. in some sense is kept not just hope alive but kept them alive, that the u.s. congress had adopted this law which would
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impose penalties on the soviet union unless it allowed people to freely emigrate. disproportionately at that time it was dealing with jews. it was also stated they wanted to leave because they were so oppressed in the soviet union. it was actually stated in global terms at that time and maybe sometime we'll come back and do that. i remember what sharansky said about the day on which in solitaire confinement somebody was able to convey to him by tapping pipes and the rest that president reagan had called russia and the soviet union really "the evil empire." and that the leader of the free world, the most powerful person in the world, would call out this oppressive government that had locked him up for no reason than that he had advocated for human rights would say this,
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success staininged his hope. and in some -- sustained his hope. and in some small way, i hope that the passage of this magnitsky act will do the same for those who are fighting for their freedom, for the many people whose freedom has already been compromised by the government in russia, for people whose freedom of expression has been compromised, for business people whose businesses have been essentially taken by the government. one of the great disappointments of the last quarter century, i think, is that the hope that we had after the fall of the beer n wall and the collapse of the soviet union that this great country of russia, this great people whose history and culture is so proud and so strong would finally be able to be free of tyranny. and while they're freer than they were during soviet times, i
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guess that's some small consolation, but increasingly the central government, president putin, have compromised human rights. and incidentally, going to the other part of this bill, the pntr part for free trade, there's a lot of businesses in the u.s. and elsewhere in the world who will be hesitant to invest as much as they would otherwise invest in russia as long as russia -- the russian government is as autocratic, irrational, suppressive, repressive, and corrupt as this russian government is. so in all these respects, aid say the magnitsky act is really a worthy successor to jackson-vanik which was such a crusading human rights act in its own day and bears the name of a truly great senator, henry "scoop" jackson and a personal
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role model to me and oamplets today the jackson-vanik amendment no longer makes sense because there is free emigration from russia. we're right to lift it, therefore. but it is equally right that we replace it with law that will address the primary human rights problems facing russia today. and may i insist in doing so we actually honor in repealing "scoop" jackson, "scoop" jackson's proud legacy. over a year ago when the russian people responded to a fraudulent election by taking peacefully to the streets the kremlin responded with thugish brutality atpresident putin falsely accusd the united states of creating this opposition in russia and began a campaign of stifling
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dissent that continues to escalate to this day. independent media outlets have been targeted, including american broadcasting services. journalists in opposition, activists have been harassed and arrested and put in jail and the russian duma has granted a law that gives sweeping power to authorities to close web sites and limit freedom of expression. in another law passed by the duma expands the definition of treason so broadly that human rights groups believe it could be used to punish anyone who questions the government. meanwhile, the nongovernmental organization community has come under increasing attack. our own agency for international development has been evicted from russia. recently, and russian n.g.o.'s are now required by law to register as foreign agents if
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they receive any money from abroad or engage in political activity. mr. president -- madam president, this is a sorry state of affairs. it's very important that we heed senator cardin's call to act as best we can to speak out against it and to do something that the dissidents in russia have told us will really affect the elite class, the leadership class in russia, which is to seize their assets, assets if they're human rights violators, and to prohibit them from freedom of travel. this is when we pass this, as i'm confident we will, is one of the days when i, and i'm sure everybody in the senate feels grateful that we're here. because what we do here matters.
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sometimes we wonder, i think, in the gridlock, partisanship and complexity in our country these days, but as i've traveled around the world over the last 24 years i've been struck over he how many places democracy has taken root where few predicted it was possible. and the voices of members of congress or congress as a body have encouraged the dissidents to show the courage that they needed to achieve what they wanted. from indonesia to chile, from east germany to; authoritarian regimes have been supplanted by flourishing free societies in just about every corner of the earth. and we in the united states and everybody in the world are a lot better off for it. unfortunately, that can't be said of russia, and that's why this magnitsky act is so important to adopt, despite the
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democratic setbacks in russia that i've just described, the repressive acts by its government, i remain confident that the future of this great people does not belong to those who would impose upon them a seus tim of -- a system of tyranny, of corruption, of abuse with impunity. the future of russia belongs to russians who believe that they have a right to decide their destiny for themselves. to the russian people who are sick of corruption and who demand the rule of law: fairness, justice under law, in short it belongs to people like the late sergei magnitsky whose name will be immortalized when we pass this legislation. in supporting this legislation, my friends, we stand with them in their noble cause. that's why i hope and am confident that we'll all join
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together, democrats and republicans, and an occasional independent, and pass this legislation overwhelmingly. i thank the chair and i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from ohio is recognized. mr. portman: i rise today in support of the comments before us which have to do with the phag any of i ask provision which i -- with the magnitsky provision. it's an important part of this legislation. but with regard to the trade part of the legislation, i just want to say i think this is also a great opportunity for us. i see my colleague from maryland here who along with senator mccain has taken the lead on the magnitsky provision encouraging better human rights in russia. and i think we'll see over time this will have an impact globally. but with regard to the trade side of this debate we're having
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today, we all recognize, i hope, that one of the great untapped opportunities for our economy and for adding jobs is to expand exports. we've got a great untapped potential here because america still is not exporting at the level it should be. and we do face stubbornly high unemployment, we have stagnant growth rates. we are looking at some tough economic numbers, even as we head toward the fiscal cliff, which could make it even worse. so we need to do all we can to ensure that our workers and our farmers have access to the 95% of consumers who live outside of our borders. that adds jobs. and when companies consider whether they're going to get into the export business or not which, again, creates opportunity here, they want to know are they going to be treated with certainty, predictability, with fairness in the marketplace. exporters need to know that the country doesn't play by the rules, that country will then face consequences. and those consequences really is what the world trade organization is all about. that's why this discussion is so
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important, because by today or tomorrow voting to authorize permanent normal trade relations with russia, we then can take advantage of the world trade organization rules as they relate to russia and our trade with them. russia joined the w.t.o. on august 22, and the united states was a big part of that accession we were talking for 18 years with russia to ensure they would go along with certain fair provisions on trade. we need to make sure they can take advantage of those trade provisions and without passing this legislation, america could get left behind. russia did agree to abide by a certain set of common rules and when they break those rules other countries can take them to court. the world trade organization, and hold their feet to the fire. it means russia will be required to better protect intellectual property rights which is a major concern for u.s. companies t. means russia must treat fairly the highly technical sector where the united states has a
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great opportunity, including telecommunications, insurance, energy services, retailing. there we have a lot of competitive advantages where we're looking for a level playing field. they have to play to rules by our agricultural exports. it means russia has to improve their transparency in the rule making progress so regulations aren't put in place without an adequate comment period and input from job traders including american companies who want to do business in russia. these were all concessions that were secured, again, over this 18-year period by the united states and other countries, but primarily the united states took a role here, republican and democrat administrations alike, in ensuring that as russia entered the w.t.o. that we had the opportunity to have a fair trading system with them. by the way, i was part of that as u.s. trade representative negotiating with my russian counterpart, secretary johanns, then secretary, now colleague from nebraska, was part of that as u.s. agriculture secretary.
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and others here in the congress have been part of that as members of the finance committee. so currently we have these trade rules that apply to the rest of the world but not to us because russia's part of the w.t.o. but we haven't granted this important pntr status of. of the more than 150 countries, we're the only one outside of this agreement at this point. american exporters will only receive those benefits with total certainty if we pass this bill to provide these normal trade relations with russia. if we fail to do so, we really hold back american workers and businesses from growing in the russian marketplace. the russian marketplace is 140 million consumers, and european and asian competitors would have that reliability and certainty we would lack when russia doesn't play by the rules, our competitors around the globe would be able to take them to the world trade court but we wouldn't. if you think about it, in a way we are shooting ourselves in the foot if we don't move forward with permanent normal trade relations with russia.
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russia is now the ninth-largest economy. unfortunately, we're underperforming in the russian market. the united states, world's greatest exporter, only accounts for 5% of russia's imports. our competitors in europe have a 40% share. shine holds a 16 -- china shoeldz a -- china holds a 16% share of that market. i know chairman baucus talked about this earlier today. i watched him on c-span where he talked about the opportunities in this market and the need for us to help our exporters here in the united states by opening up this potential market for our workers and our farmers. we can do much better if we pass this pntr. this is certainly true in my home state of ohio. ohio already exports about $200 billion a year in goods to russia, and we want to retain those sales and add even more. this bill impacts a number of businesses with a large ohio footprint.
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caterpillar, mining equipment, one of those ohio employers, employ nearly 100,000 ohioans. it is a great example of the certainty pntr will bring. with russia's entrance into the w.t.o., exports to russia will go from 15% to 5%. for cat pilt hrar's off high -- caterpillar's off highway truck this exceeds $5,000 per truck, a substantial margin. if we don't pass this bill we have no idea how russia will treat our u.s. comporters and we'll have -- exporters and have no way to hold them accountable. other businesses that benefit includes procter & gamble which sells 50 brands in russia now. they have the leading market share in about 75% of the categories in which they compete. eaton, a company in the cleveland area, has thousands of employees in northeast ohio, exports industrial clutches and brakes to russia and looks
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forward to the certainty this bill brings. when working with our customers in russia, they need that certainty. t.d. aviation in ohio employs about 9,000 people has a great opportunity to compete as russia acquires over 1,000 new civilian aircraft over the next decade. ohio's cattlemen support this legislation. russia made important concessions in the negotiations that help us meet the growing demand for u.s. beef in russia. it is currently the fifth largest export market for u.s. beef and according to the usda, we have a number to rise dramatically. the bill also contains some items that the russian government opposes, including the human rights provisions which were discussed earlier here on the floor, inspired by the treatment of russian lawyer sergei magnitsky. senators cardin, mccain and others put the spotlight on the corruption and lack of
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transparency in russia. these provisions will clamp down on human right abusers denying them visas and putting them on notice their corruption won't be tolerated by freedom-loving countries like the united states. the house passed this bill last month on the anniversary of magnitsky's death and it's timing the senate does the same. we also have some provisions in this legislation that will ensure our trade negotiators keep russia's feet to the fire in implementing the various commitments russia made. with regard to agriculture, russia has not always played by the rules, been a point of friction between our countries. we need to make sure they bring their laws into compliance including their use over time of nonscience based standards for u.s. agricultural exports. i want to note my strong concern with russia on another front and that is their involvement in the continuing syrian conflict. as a member of the armed services committee, i've watched the syrian situation with alarm particularly as we see it
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unfolding this week. russia's been anything but an ally in this case with their support of the assad regime. they vetoed three u.n. security resolutions aimed at imposing tough sanctions on the assad regime. when russia isn't using their veto power, they're arming the assad dictatorship with over $1 billion in weaponry including attack helicopters they are using to continue terror against their citizens in syria. let me be clear. while i fully oppose russia's actions in syria, this bill is no gift to russia. in fact, this bill has teeth. it brings russia into a rules-based system. it's good for america, good for our economy and our jobs. and i think it strikes a critical balance by giving critical assistance to american companies that want to export their products to russia's growing middle class, supporting good-paying jobs here at home. however, forcing russia to play by the rules and, again, providing binding penalties if they fail to livep